Movies have become an important medium for a growing number of professional and creative collaborations between the United States and China. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, China has just become the first international movie market to exceed $3 billion in box office revenue.
In a commentary in Beijing’s Economic Observer, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles H. Rivkin wrote, “It is exciting to see our two countries’ industries combine their creative talents to blur the lines between Hollywood and Chinese productions with an increasing number of American studios partnering with their Chinese counterparts.”
“As the U.S.-China film relationship deepens, Ambassador Rivkin predicts, “these partnerships will expand across important areas such as film financing, cinema exhibition, studio theme park development, and merchandising.”
Movies can create jobs and spur economic growth. In 2011, China’s film and television industry directly contributed $15.5 billion and more than 900,000 jobs to China’s economy, according to a report by the Motion Picture Association and the China Film Distributors and Exhibitors Association.
Chinese companies are also becoming increasingly involved in the U.S. film industry. To facilitate this growing relationship, strong intellectual property rights are important to create prosperous, open markets that generate additional opportunities for Chinese and U.S. companies.
“Digital piracy remains a real threat to U.S. and Chinese content creators alike,” Ambassador Rivkin warned. “The International Intellectual Property Association has reported that approximately 90 percent of pirated new releases stem from recordings made in movie theaters. Many films lose tremendous revenue when pirated versions are made available prior to the films’ official opening, decreasing the number of potential moviegoers.”
The U.S. hopes to work closely with China over the coming years to improve the market for legitimate sales of movies, including through enhanced enforcement for pre-releases.
“Can we create a new environment for doing business that allows for continued prosperity but also respects intellectual property rights?” Ambassador Rivkin wrote. “Of course we can. . . By utilizing strong deterrent penalties for unauthorized recordings and collaborations between law enforcement officials, theater owners, and distribution partners, our governments can prevent many illegal recordings and further bolster our countries’ entertainment industries.”
“Our potential to build ever deeper cultural ties, create more jobs and mutually beneficial economic growth underwritten by an atmosphere of artistic and business protection is enormous.”