China Raises India Film Quota after ‘Buddies,’ ‘Yoga’

Looks like Wang Baoqiang and Jackie Chan are China’s new cinematic ambassadors to India. 

The box office performance of two Chinese films set in India has led to China’s film regulators granting the world’s second most populous nation two more titles in the annual 34-movie import quota in the world’s second-largest cinema market.

With Wang Baoqiang’s Buddies in India and Jackie Chan’s Kung Fu Yoga doing well during the first three days of the Chinese New Year holiday — usually China’s top cinema-going season — India will now receive four films, up from two, in this year’s import quota.

Both Buddies and Yoga are co-productions with Indian companies and produced under the terms of China’s film co-production treaty with India, signed in September 2014.

As of Monday, Kung Fu Yoga, starring Chan, placed second for the holiday weekend and grossed RMB 390 million ($56.7 million). Buddies in India, actor Wang Baoqiang’s first go as a director, placed third and had taken in RMB 382 million ($55.5 million).

India may be the world’s second-largest country, but despite the notoriety of its film industry, better known as Bollywood, it is only the world’s sixth-largest cinema market. Being able to export its films, or at least its co-productions, effectively beyond the Indian diaspora would be a boon for filmmakers there. Filmmakers in China are also looking to broaden the appeal of their own products, which so far have had similarly limited appeal beyond areas with large Chinese populations.

There were no indications of which films might fill the two slots. Most films in the revenue-sharing slate go to Hollywood movies, which besides local product make the most money. In 2016, a total of 40 films were imported on that basis due to lagging cinema revenues, for a total of 40, although of the additional six flicks that made it in, only Hacksaw Ridge did well. However, that relaxation of the quota indicated that officials managing film imports can be flexible when so motivated, and have again demonstrated with the additional slots for India that such matters are not always set in stone.