Berlin, 28 November, 2020 – The opportunities of Sino-European collaboration and the trends of the Chinese film market were explored at the 6th content Lab hosted by the Sino-European producers’ association Bridging the Dragon. Known for being the only think-tank fully focusing on supporting the development of suitable content and creating new business opportunities between the two industries, this year the Lab took place in the virtual space.
The intensive 5-day program kicked off on Wednesday, 25 November. Over 90 participants from all over Europe, China and – since this year – New Zealand crowded the online platform. Renowned Chinese screenwriters like Li Xiao, author of the Chinese remake of Italian Perfect Strangers ($98 million Chinese b.o.) or Yang Weiwei, screenwriter of box office success Sheep Without a Shepherd ($196 million Chinese b.o.); state institutions like the China Film Co-Production Corporation (CFCC); market leading distributors like Lian Ray Pictures or Dadi Pictures; Hengdian World Studios, China’s biggest film studios also involved in distribution; Road Pictures, importers of high end arthouse successes like Palme d’Or winner Shoplifter and Oscar nominated Capernaum, were with us together among European colleagues like representatives from Universal Pictures; Berlin-based leading VFX and production house Rise Pictures; Dutch veteran Els Vandevorst from N279 Entertainment; Ghosts City which line-produced the biggest Chinese shooting in France; Italian company Fandango; Main Road Post, VFX studio involved in some of the most significant Russian blockbusters.
Experts spent intensive 5 days with participants to improve market readiness of their projects but also explore potential collaboration.
At the centre of many discussions were the latest trends of the Chinese market and the current taste of Chinese audience. Patriotic films which depict Chinese characters as heroes seem to be the main genre at the moment and that Generation Z (people born after 1995) will continue to be the main group of moviegoers. But there is an increasing space for other genres such as animation, fantasy, sci-fi and also – to some extent – art house. Due to the trade war and various other factors, in 2019 only 2 out of the top 10 films in China were from the Hollywood, the lowest rate of the decade. This might leave space to foreign films coming from other countries, in particular Europe.
To enhance understanding about each other’s industry, Liu Chun, General manager of CFCC coached the participants on the co-production policies in China, and Stephan Bender, CEO of Film France, coached Chinese participants on the European funding structure.
Mr. Liu updated that the box office in mainland China reached over 2 billion EUR since the reopening of cinemas in July, and it reached an encouraging amount of 470 million EUR just in the week of National Day holiday last month, which was almost 85% of the same period last year, making China overtake the US market for the first time. “The recovery of the film industry in China has fully proven that crises and opportunities co-exist”, Mr. Liu said. The trend of online streaming was also discussed. Up until June 2020, there are 0,9 billion online streaming viewers in China. In 2019, 137 new theatrically released films produced in the year were broadcasted online, most of which were small and medium budget films, and 789 new films only for online release were streamed.
In addition to our traditional matchmaking meetings and group discussions, for the first time we open the practical sessions to a wider audience, covering hands-on topics on co-producing with China, censorship, who’s who in the Chinese film market, line producing Chinese movies.
The pandemic has put the world in enormous turmoil and has caused havoc across the film industry. In China there is still a huge audience and many opportunities to be explored. Judging from the record-high attendance at the Lab and its vigorous exchanges, the enthusiasm to work together across cultures is still strong and the collaboration with this market is as strategic as ever.
Doris Ho, Project Manager Europe