China Newspaper Calls Production Gap with Hollywood ‘Embarrassing’

The English-language edition of a Chinese nationalist newspaper decries the quality of China’s productions but blames Hollywood.

A China nationalist, state-run newspaper editorial has decried the quality of film production in the country and called the gap between foreign movies and Chinese ones “embarrassing.”

Entitled “The Chinese film industry must address the embarrassing gap between its prosperous market and underdeveloped production,” the article, written by Chen Changye, described as a “film industry analyst,” cites China’s recent box office growth and success as positive developments, but said “when comparing content available, no matter if we look at a single hit drama or a number of popular works, we cannot say with confidence that China does things better.”

Global Times — the English-language edition of a nationalist, state-run newspaper — is not known for lauding the achievements of non-Chinese entities, especially from the West. However, Chen believes that China’s 2016 box office slump, in which total box office grew less than four percent after years of double-digit expansion, is due in part to poor production values for both film and television.

“While China produces more than 700 films a year, few have been able to stand out from the crowd in March. Instead the Chinese market was completely dominated by imported films,” Chen wrote.

However, in keeping with the nationalist tone of Global Times, ultimately Chen blames not Chinese filmmakers for the state of Chinese productions, but Hollywood:

“What happens then when we open the doors to our market if our own ability to produce films is poor?

“Hollywood comes to work with us with enthusiasm, but we end up getting the short stick in the relationship. We probably never expected that US-China co-produced films would provide a channel for Hollywood to take a bigger piece of the pie that is the Chinese market, while joint ventures such as Oriental DreamWorks would end up failing.

“In the end, Hollywood takes a lot from China, but we do not gain much in return,” Chen wrote. Chen omits that domestic films face no distribution quota, currently holds the top two spots at the all-time box office, doesn’t have a co-production treaty with the United States.