Hollywood film financiers, distributors, producers and even stars are becoming increasingly worried as the administration of US President Donald Trump rachets up the rhetoric amid an expanding trade war that could shut America out of the massive Chinese cinema marketplace.
According to a report in Variety, China has warned American tech giants of “dire consequences” should they obey Trump’s new proposed ban of selling the country 5G technology.
“This is a pretty insane moment to be in,” said Jesse Sisgold, president of Skydance Media, whose blockbuster franchises like “Mission: Impossible” and “Terminator” are reliant on China, the second-largest film market in the world, the report said.
The feeling was echoed by, Mark Gill, an indie producer behind films like “Shakespeare in Love,” who serves as president and CEO of Solstice Studios.
“We need to get past this phase where our government is putting up walls against each other — to nobody’s benefit,” said Gill. “It’s impossible to think about doing things without China.”
Gill fired off some impressive statistics about cinematic demand in China, estimating that moviegoers will continue to grow at a rate of 15% per year, far in excess of that in the rest of the world. In addition to being the world’s second-largest film market, China also accounts for 60% of the world’s video on demand subscribers, according to research published by Ampere Analysis.
If restrictions on US content are severe enough to reduce the number of films playing theatrically, Variety reported, China’s film regulators may turn elsewhere. Two of the most obvious sources of foreign content are the U.K. and Australia.
“We’re at a low point,” concluded Gill. “It will get better.”