As the partnerships between Hollywood and Chinese studios increase, Lionsgate, partnering with The China Film Group and Talent International, has received approval to screen “The Hunger Games” in China. Some observers were surprised by the smooth approval of the film due to the recent tensions between China and the US over dissident, Chen Guangcheng. The Hollywood Reporter reports:
The teen tentpole, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and has already grossed $620 million in worldwide box office, will screen in the fast-growing Asian market in the first half of June.
That’s a coup for Lionsgate as the Suzanne Collins books, on which the Hunger Games movie franchise is based, have not sold as widely overseas as in North America. Getting the Lionsgate title into China, and also coming up in Japan, gets Hunger Games into an even bigger world market than the one earlier primed by the book series.
And Lionsgate is betting that Chinese cinema-goers that see The Hunger Games will also be more likely to see the Catching Fire sequel, should it also get approval for a release in China.
The Hunger Games will be among the first major Hollywood films to be released in China under the landmark revenue sharing agreement announced in February that allows foreign distributors to collect up to 25 percent of a film’s receipts in China. Previously, Western distributors were allotted just 13 percent-17 percent of their films’ grosses in the country.
China and Hollywood’s relationship seems to be improving since their agreement in February that the quota for foreign films in China has been increased from 20 to 34 films a year. According to Bloomberg, this gives Hollywood access to the third largest film market in the world:
China is becoming more important to U.S. filmmakers as the country adds more movie theaters, loosens restrictions on Western films and seeks more co-productions. Box-office sales there increased 35 percent to $2 billion in 2011, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. U.S. receipts were $10.2 billion, according to the group.
A 3-D version of the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” has taken in $134 million in China since it was released there on April 10, according to Box Office Mojo, a film researcher.
Lions Gate fell 3.6 percent to $11.47 at yesterday in New York trading. The shares have gained 38 percent this year.