Several scenarios are evolving for the U.S. movie industry in the midst of escalating economic tensions with China after a string of U.S. tariffs on Chinese products. This is the situation according to several newspaper accounts in the U.S. and in China.
Among other requests, U.S. president Donald Trump is demanding that China do more to protect U.S. intellectual property. China has responded with tariffs on U.S. products, and both sides are promising further barriers to trade.
However, the White House has remained silent on the trade war concerning movies since Trump has repeatedly battled with Hollywood (see story on page 40), and China took the opportunity to quietly retaliate against the U.S. entertainment industry.
But even this aspect has several dimensions. On one hand, Beijing is now limiting (albeit not officially) Hollywood's ability to distribute its product in the country.
On the other hand, China wants to avoid charges of protectionism, particularly from its domestic theater owners, and wants to make sure that the movie sector does well in the country. For that reason it is expected that foreign box office numbers won't dip below 40 percent.
Distribution in China is very complex and requires governmental approval. China has an official quota allowing a limited number of Hollywood movies per year--it permitted 38 in 2019, up from 35 in 2018. Chinese government officials want to make sure the box office for domestic films is strong and is not overshadowed by Hollywood imports. So they adjust slots so more...