Globalization and Chinese Cinema

The size of audiences for films in China reduced in 1983-90 thereby affecting the Chinese film industry. In 1993, however, the government restored the initial policies governing cinema. Films produced within China began increasing its market share, and box office revenue, earnings, and records increased. By 2007, Chinese domestic films accounted for over 54 percent of the mainstream film box office. In her 2008 article titled “New Globalization and Cultural Industry in China,” Katherine Chu examines the way in which China state and cinema actors have reacted to apparent opportunities and shortcomings of globalization (Chu). This paper is a critical analysis of the Chu’s article discussing how globalization has presented opportunities and challenges for Chinese Cinema.

Initially, the state was wholly involved in the film industry and the policies implemented were stringent rules of censorship, entry barriers, and aimed at using films as a propaganda machine to influence the public. State corporations were used to produce, distribute, and exhibit films. That changed in 1994 when state monopoly in the film industry was broken and other cinema businesses were encouraged. The state started negotiating with US film companies such as Sony Corporation and Disney to establish business between the US and China. Thus, globalization has opened up and expanded the domestic cinema industry in China (Chu). However, I posit that globalization has opened up China for international filmmakers more than the Chinese filmmakers. Moreover, it can also be argued that since the government negotiated with the foreign film companies, there might be a big influence on how the films are produced and further implications for the Chinese cinema at large.

The transformation and growth in Chinese cinema signified an increase in co-production between Chinese filmmakers and foreign producers, while for the foreign film producers; it signified an increase in the cinema market as Chinese market was opened up. China film-makers co-production was propelled by an overarching need to restructure domestic markets preceded by decline. Chinese cinema actors negotiated their position balancing political and artistic visions and in line with the business demands (Chu). Chu contends that Chinese cinema was shaped by globalization and local policies and this development in globalization goes beyond the combination of domestic and foreign aspect but entails a deep interrogation of multicultural production.

The author believes that despite the fact that domestic culture has not been simply blurred, there has been a new cultural identity created. The argument of the author in this regard is true since The cinema market in China in the recent past has grown drastically, becoming one of the largest out of North American continent according to recent studies. The author has analyzed the market share of co-produced films and analyzed the box office earnings and revenues that films accrued during times between 2000 and 2006 (Chu). The author’s analysis is correct since it is in line with the recent research that analyzed Hollywood movies in China which showed the following results. In 2016, Chinese box office registered over $6.6 billion and attained a record of over $8 billion in 2017 as opposed to North America’s over $11 billion in revenues. An approximate of 10 cinema screens spring up daily in China, accruing to over 50000 movie screens in 2017 (Song 177). Chu’s projection is correct as it provided insights for further research.

The art history research that the author has employed has presented her with accurate data since she used documentations found in Chinese national libraries and bookstores. The author met government officials who gave her reports on policies and data on filmmaking which aided her analysis of domestic and foreign film industry. They shared with her enacted policies on cinema including “Interim Provisions on Foreign Investment in Cinema Construction” among others which have been acclaimed as the big influencers of Chinese cinema (Chu). Chu also made several visits to Beijing Film Academy where she gained further insights into the film industry in China.

From her survey of various individuals in the cinema industry, Chu argues that the state has a big role in the mobilization of a free cinema industry. This is indeed true since the government has only given foreign film producers only two options, either to co-produce with their Chinese counterparts or distribute flat-rate titles where the latter does not earn foreign companies revenue which reduces their investment in Chinese markets (Song 178). Her sources of evidence are weak since they only depend on the sources that might give her information according to how the source wants to achieve. In addition, she complicates herself when she says that the state initially controlled the film industry and later goes ahead to use the data that government officials give to her.

While indeed the author has contended that Chinese cinema heavily depends on how the state policy on films is, Chu has further gone ahead to present insights on what Chinese cinema rely on. She suggests detachment of the industry from state policies and taking advantage of the opportunities brought about by globalization, using co-production to market their films abroad and getting ways of attracting their international audiences, and balancing China’s cultural identity and efficiency of cinema (Chu). It is indeed true that the Chinese cinema market is a complex business environment.

It can be recommended that the key players in the industry should come together and forge a way in which considerations of both the global market and domestic are taken into consideration during production. Chu’s article has omitted to delve on the notion that state should totally let film industry go independent. However, Chu has opened up a context for future research on how cinema can be related to national identity and how filmmakers can combine the two and increase the market share globally (Chu). The author’s arguments have broader implications including the perception of the Chinese government’s commitment to the success of its citizens in the film industry and its ill-use of cinema.