If you are a frequent filmgoer, you may have noticed that there is an increasingly prominent Chinese presence in Hollywood movies — Chinese logos are popping up everywhere and Chinese actors are given more screen time than ever. That’s because this year, China is projected to become the world’s largest movie market, and American filmmakers are trying to adapt. Here are six ways that your movie-going experience will be affected:
More Chinese heroes will save the day.
The days when Chinese actors in Hollywood were a rarity are over. Now, filmmakers are tailoring their content to get past China’s government censorship agency, which only allows films that reflect positively on China to be released. Therefore, Hollywood has started casting Chinese actors more frequently, and often in heroic roles — the Chinese space program saves the day in “The Martian,” and various Chinese actors and locations are present in “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.”
There will be multiple versions of your favorite films.
Although the Chinese government only allows 34 foreign films to be released in its country a year, Hollywood can bypass this rule by co-producing with a Chinese company, thereby dodging the label of “foreign film.” This often results in a separate version of the movie being made that is specifically for Chinese audiences; for instance, on the advice of their Chinese partners, the filmmakers behind “Looper” created a separate version of their film with an extra 15 minutes of footage in Shanghai.
More Chinese films may be coming to your local theater.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Alliance Boots Executive Chairman Stefano Pessina and Dalian Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin discussing China as an emerging economy at Fortune Global Forum 2013. (Fortune Live Media / Creative Commons)
In order to increase the international distribution of Chinese films, many Chinese companies are buying American media and distribution companies with a global clout; the Dalian Wanda Group, for instance, has purchased AMC and Legendary Entertainment, making Wanda Film Holdings the world’s highest revenue-generating film company. However, many native Chinese filmmakers are still finding it difficult to create content that translates well to international audiences, which brings us to our next point:
Your favorite American stars and filmmakers will be working on Chinese films.
To reach more global audiences, Chinese studios are increasingly turning to American film talents, learning from Hollywood strategies and capitalizing on the broad popularity of American film stars. These efforts include casting megastars such as Matt Damon in the Chinese co-production “The Great Wall,” as well as getting advice from Marvel directors Joe and Anthony Russo on how to produce international hits.
January and February may not be wastelands for movies anymore.
Although studios often release their worst material in January and February, there is a newfound pressure to release profitable films near Chinese New Year, one of the most lucrative times for the Chinese film market. The Jan. 29 release date of “Kung Fu Panda 3” was established with this holiday in mind, and subsequently became China’s all-time highest-grossing animated film.