Chinese collaboration could boost the British Film Industry

The British film industry looks like getting a major boost with the opening of a new alliance with the Chinese film industry. Earlier this year the Prime Minister met with China’s top industry officials and the upshot was an agreement that promotes cooperation between the reputedly ailing film industry in Britain and the gigantic movie market that awaits in China.

In the past there has been a restriction on the number of foreign films that can be screened in China – 34 to be exact – but the coalition means that restriction can be avoided if the films are part British in origin. P.M. Cameron noted that the move will open up the market in a country that is currently building at least half a dozen new cinema screens every day.

Rather than ‘Chollywood’ as some observers have dubbed it, this new approach to a vast market should be known as ‘Chinewood’, as in Pinewood Studios, since it’s Britain not the U.S. that has taken the lead in exploring its potential in more ways than one. Chancellor Osborne also announced in his autumn statement that in future, film-makers need spend only 10% of their budgets within the UK to qualify for tax relief, where before the minimum was 25%.

CEO of the British Film Industry Amanda Nevill went to China with Cameron, and her appraisal is the agreement means that 2014 will see the beginning of the biggest ‘exchange programme’ ever seen in the industry. The only real caveat is that Chinese culture and society should be positively portrayed – what some will see as a sort of propaganda but most agree is reasonable and to be expected.

In plain numbers, the move is not only reasonable but long overdue; China provides a huge box office audience, currently contributing over £1.65 billion to global spending in cinemas and projected to reach at least £3.5 billion in the next three years. Clearly there is immense potential for jobs in the UK and in China, and hopefully a lot of blockbuster films for a global audience.