February 03, 2006


The Painted VeilThis one is still developing and I ask any Chinese-speakers to let me know what they think because I'm not getting a good sense of this story at this point.

A sharp-eyed reader pointed out recently that, according to a couple of Chinese language sites, the rules for Hong Kong/Mainland co-productions are being tightened. China only allows 20 foreign films to be distributed each year, but if the movie is a Hong Kong/Mainland co-production then it's treated as a Chinese film.

Censorship and script approval has always been strict (shooting on SHAOLIN SOCCER was reportedly delayed for a year due to the use of the word SHAOLIN in the title, and Stephen Chow called the censor's office himself during the shooting of KUNG FU HUSTLE to make sure the use of Buddha's Palm was okay) and many American films have to make a choice between big profits and creative control. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 shot in Shanghai and the producers chose to keep creative control, but in doing so they lost guaranteed screening slots in China and if the movie is approved for Chinese release they'll only make 13% of the box office. THE PAINTED VEIL, on the other hand, is a co-production (click the poster for a larger view). Chinese authorities have the right of final cut, but the film gets a big tax break, a guaranteed slot, and a bigger slice of the Chinese profits pie.

According to this reader, Hong Kong/Mainland co-productions now face the following rules:

1) A third of the cast must be from the Mainland. This is an old requirement but maybe enforcement is being stepped up?
2) The Mainland actors must play Mainland characters.
3) The story must relate to Mainland China.

It'll be interesting to see what comes of China's tight rules. Will filming there and releasing films in the Chinese market be so lucrative that producers cede final cut and content control to China, or will large productions just avoid it altogether. I don't think Hong Kong can afford to ignore the Chinese market, but Hollywood has that luxury.

Read more in Danwei (an older article but a good perspective).

There's a recent article in Newsweek.

Cri-English also gives it some coverage.

February 3, 2006 at 09:43 AM in News | Permalink


It's been a fact that the HK movie industry needs to venture out into co-producing movies with other territories.

However, if these new rules come in place, it will mean Hk movies which need the funding from mainland China will lose its HK flavour. I doubt a movie like Election will be made in the way it was if these new rules came into effect whilst we will get to see more silly "let's write the location into the story even if it doesn't make sense" situations like "Love Undercover 2" (being shot in Shanghai) and "Three of a Kind" (at some Chinese theme park).

Posted by: John | Feb 6, 2006 12:37:20 AM

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