China and Netherlands have signed a film co-production treaty, under which eligible co-productions will be entitled to access benefits from both countries. The treaty will allow filmmakers in Netherlands greater opportunities to get involved in China’s fast growing film market. More importantly, they can bypass China’s foreign film import quota, which is currently limited to 34 films per year on a revenue share of which a large majority are Hollywood blockbusters. European titles normally sell to China on a flat fee basis, which limits any potential upside for European producers.
China has co-production treaties in place with several countries, including the UK, France, Canada, Spain, Italy, Australia, India and South Korea. However, not all have made great progress to date.
As regards Sino-Franco co-production, Wolf Totem (2015) was the most successful title in China since their treaty was signed in 2010. It grossed more than $110 million box office in China, a good result given its $39.6 million investment. China Film Group, the state-owned production and distribution partner in China, played a key role in the film’s box office success. Released one week before the Chinese New Year, and in 2D, 3D, IMAX and China Film Giant Screen (CFGS) versions, this film has been given the best timing and high attention from the Chinese government.
Even though the co-production treaties with South Korea and India were only signed last year, they have made more progress, given the similarity of cultural backgrounds and the long production partnership even before the treaty came into being. Projects with South Korea include The Third way of love, Bad Guys Always Die, and projects with India include Da Nao Tian Zhu, Da Tang Xuan Zang, and Kung Fu Yoga.
The first co-production with UK under the treaty (signed in 2014) will be a documentary, Earth: One Amazing Day, a partnership between BBC and Shanghai Media Group (SMG), which is set for a 2017 release.