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Author Topic: Charlie showing in China on only one screen - in IMAX
Joseph L. Kleiman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 378
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Apr 2005


 - posted 10-18-2005 01:35 PM      Profile for Joseph L. Kleiman   Email Joseph L. Kleiman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oct. 18, 2005

'Charlie' fails to secure gold ticket from China

By Jonathan Landreth (The Hollywood Reporter)

BEIJING -- "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" has opened in China at one theater only, and only as an Imax film, after officials rejected it for wider release in 35mm, saying it was "not commercially viable," a Warner Bros. executive said.

"Charlie," based on the classic 1964 children's book by Roald Dahl and starring Johnny Depp, has earned Warner Bros. nearly $450 million to date, including more than $244 million outside North America.

Each year, foreign studios are allowed to share boxoffice revenue from only 20 imported films distributed theatrically in China in the prevalent 35mm format by state-run importer China Film Group. CFG holds a near monopoly on film imports.

Imax 70mm films are not subject to the import quota. To date, there are only a handful of Imax screens in China.

"Initially we submitted 'Charlie' as a 35mm revenue-sharing film, but China's importation committee thought it was not commercially viable," Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, president of Warner Bros. International, said late last week in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.

A spokeswoman at China's Film Bureau, one of the government bodies responsible for approving foreign film imports, said that because "Charlie" "is a special large-screen film, it does not occupy an import quota."

Limited access to the Chinese market, coupled with the rampant DVD piracy that undercuts the boxoffice take of new releases here, has spawned fierce competition for the 35mm import quotas among the Hollywood studios.

"It's a revenue-sharing Imax film, so it's definitely another opportunity," Kwan-Rubinek said, adding that Warner Bros. plans in 2006 to try to release "Ant Bully," "Poseidon" and "Happy Feet" in both the 35mm and Imax formats.

Even as China tries to support its own growing film industry, Hollywood films are among the top earners at the boxoffice.

"Titanic" holds the title of highest-grossing film ever released in China. The Paramount/Fox co-production earned $43.4 million when it was released nationwide here in 1998.

Warner Bros. is "happy" with earnings from "Charlie" to date from the boxoffice at Shanghai's Peace Cinema, where it began screening just ahead of the weeklong holiday for China's National Day, Oct. 1, Kwan-Rubinek said.

Eighty-yuan ($9.86) tickets to see "Charlie" are "selling well," a boxoffice attendant at the Peace Cinema in Shanghai said.

Four or five daily screenings of "Charlie" have been filling the 300-seat Imax theater to about 65% capacity on weekends, and 55% during the week, said the Peace Cinema ticket seller, who declined to give her name.

An official in the import and distribution department of China Film Group who would only give his surname, He, said that "Charlie" would continue to run in Shanghai "as long as the movie is doing well with the audience."

Beyond the 20 foreign 35mm films approved for revenue-sharing each year, any other 35mm film must be imported for a flat fee. As this fee has tended to be small, foreign producers have all but stopped importing films without revenue-sharing approval.

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Richard Hamilton
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1341
From: Evansville, Indiana
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 10-21-2005 11:21 AM      Profile for Richard Hamilton   Email Richard Hamilton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have only been in Beijing a couple of times, i never saw a movie theater. In ChangChun (population 8 million), I only saw a single screen theater which was above a bowling alley. I saw Spiderman 2 there, but I slept because it was only in Chinese, not even english subtitles!! This was fairly close to when it was released in the states. there were only about 10 people in the theater. We only went because my girlfriend knew i was in the theater biz.

You can get dvd copies before the movies are in the theaters in the states.

I recently did an emergency call at a 3d 8/70 attraction and there were about 700 people in a 500 seat auditorium.

Eighty Yaun sounds very expensive to buy a ticket. I bought a dvd of star wars the day it was released in the states for 7 yuan. Thats less than a dollar. There really isnt a market for commercial theaters that i have seen.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16221
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-21-2005 10:01 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Richard, I wouldn't be surprides of the film you saw was also a bootleg copy. Those Chinese are pretty crafty at times [Eek!] .

Mark

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