Currently the Chinese marketplace is very much influenced by its economic, demographic, political, technological, and sociocultural trends. The Chinese population is aging, and the gender ratio is being tipped to favor the male population. Also, the urbanization of rural parts of China has lead to a rising middle class with higher inclinations to spend their income. Along with these changes, China has fully embraced technological innovation, from mobile payments to sharing economies, to allowing social media access to almost all functions of daily life. The Chinese film market used to consist of mainly government-produced domestic films, but since the the first insurgence of foreign imports, China’s desire for Hollywood films has sparked and grown immensely.
However, while the general public has a high demand for foreign films, the key player in exporting a film and distributing it into China is the Chinese government and related censorship bodies. Since China is a widely untapped marketplace for foreign filmmakers, it makes sense to enter, and there are three ways a film can do so: a flat-fee export, the revenue sharing, and the co-production model. The flat-fee export model entails a straight export into China, including only a flat price, no sales revenue. The revenue-sharing model is the desired choice for big-budget studios since they get a percentage of the ticket sales in China, but there are only a select few spots that are filled each year. The co-production model is when an American film studio partners with a Chinese production company and they create a film together. This model allows the film be considered domestic, but comes with many stipulations regarding Chinese presence and influence in the film.
For an independent film company looking to expand in the most lucrative international market, the best way to effectively create, market, and distribute a movie in China is to first craft a broad, unique, and attainable mission statement. Once the goals of the company are created, then key factors for success are choosing the best method of entry into the marketplace while adeptly taking the government influence into consideration, hiring locals who have previous experience in the Chinese film industry and have a deep understanding of Chinese history, culture, and the current social trends, and taking advantage of all the avenues that are available to market and distribute the film. Overall, the best options for a small independent film company in America would be to create an animated feature with two versions, or a live-action film featuring prominent Chinese actors. These are the most feasible under the flat-fee model for those with a limited financial budget, or a co-production approach for those interested in a more long-term investment plan with China.
Overall, there are many moving parts and aspects to consider when entering the Chinese movie marketplace, and this research and suggestions are geared towards making sure that if going to China is possibility, then this information provides the best tools and resources to ensure that venture is a success.