Why Western Filmmakers Have Completely Stopped Shooting In China

by Rob Cain

This article was posted on 29 November 2017 on www.Forbes.com

Movie producers across Europe, the Americas, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand — everywhere outside East Asia — have abandoned the People’s Republic of China as a filming location.

Last year was a big bust for China’s efforts to attract foreign productions, with only one major picture, Pacific Rim, shooting in China, and in that case only because it had to. Pacific Rim’s producer, Legendary Entertainment, is 100% owned by the Chinese real estate company Wanda Group, which wanted the production to shoot in its Wanda Qingdao Studios. The picture also had to shoot in China as a requirement for it to achieve official co-production status, which is essential for it to receive preferential release status in the Middle Kingdom’s movie theaters.

This year will come and go without a single major Hollywood or Western movie going to the Middle Kingdom for shooting. One reason for the filming drought is that China’s film authorities stopped issuing filming permits between March and October when the Communist Party of China held its 19th Congress. In such hugely important political years as this one, cautious government bureaucrats typically shut down any activity in the PRC that could potentially cause embarrassing publicity for them.

More important, however, is the general antipathy toward China among producers.

China has a reputation as being a pretty terrible place to film, says American producer and China physical production expert Aaron Shershow. “Exactly zero Western productions are being planned for next year,” he told me. “None of the major Hollywood studios and none of the major independents have set up to film movies there.”

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Rob Cain is a consultant to the entertainment industry and has been doing business in China since 1987.

Richard Trombly
About Richard Trombly 18 Articles
Journalist, director, producer, and screenwriter from Shanghai, China Richard Trombly is a storyteller with 25+ years of experience.