This Tuesday, top executives, producers, investors and creative professionals from Hollywood and China will gather again at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles for Asia Society Southern California’s annual summit.
Founded in 2010 as the leading platform for conversation about co-production, cross-border investment and the integration of Chinese and American talent, the Summit’s programming has evolved over the years along with the development of the Chinese film industry. Due to political tensions between U.S. and China as well as Chinese government’s crackdown on overseas investment, 2017 and 2018 have seen much less deals of Chinese companies acquiring American entertainment firms or investing in slates of Hollywood productions. Meanwhile, new trends have gradually emerged, including American talent’s increasing involvement in Chinese local productions, more collaborations and transactions in TV, and new opportunities presented by China’s emerging entertainment sectors, such as gaming, streaming, and eSports. To reflect the evolution of Sino-Hollywood business ties, the Summit has been renamed this year from U.S.-China Film Summit to U.S.-China Entertainment Summit. In addition to film and television, this year’s Summit will explore topics such as streaming, gaming and the online marketplace for everything from short-form video to crowd-sourced story ideas. Examples of companies participating at this year’s program include Warner Brothers, Endeavor Content, Perfect World Pictures, Netflix, Amazon Studios, Gravity Pictures, Wanda Media, East West Bank, and Twitch.
In addition to presenting panels on market trends, emerging sectors and potential challenges, this year’s summit will honor four global leaders who have made significant contributions in building bridges between the U.S. and China. Michelle Yeoh will be honored for her achievements as an actress, producer and writer. Her recent film Crazy Rich Asians marked a cultural watershed for Asian and Asian American talent. Kevin Tsujihara will be honored for his vision and leadership as the Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. In recent years, he led the company to stay ahead in a dynamic global market and advocate for diversity and inclusion. Two results of his leadership include Crazy Rich Asian and The Meg. Xu Zheng will be honored for his trailblazing work as an actor, writer, director and producer. This year, his popular Dying to Survive (2018) struck a chord among the Chinese public and accelerated government efforts to lower prices for cancer drugs. Last but not least, Elizabeth Daley, Dean and Steven J. Ross/Time Warner Professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, will be honored as an education pioneer. Among her many international initiatives, USC has had partnerships with Chinese universities for over a decade.
Some see 2018 as a turbulent year for China-Hollywood relationship, while others see new possibilities and opportunities in the chaos. In a time of uncertainty, it might be more important than ever to hear what industry insiders have to say about the future of Hollywood and China.