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Hollywood Shuffle – China’s Making Congress Nervous & Other News

In this Hollywood news round-up, there’s a whole lot about China and little bit extra for horror films (in general), Jurassic World, Spawn and Toronto Film Festival.


China is saving Hollywood, but at what cost? Or so goes Salon’s argument:

The reaction of most in the U.S. film world to China’s emergence has been hopeful, crossed with a bit of confusion or uncertainty. Nunan, for instance, sees the history of Hollywood as the tale of various forms of technology saving the industry whenever finances sag, whether it’s TV licensing, the VHS player, DVD sales or streaming. This is the fist time, he said, that another nation is coming to the aid of Hollywood rather than a technological advance.

Frater sees a sometimes awkward relationship between China and Hollywood but thinks the two sides are starting to figure each other out a little bit better. “This is a $7 or $8 billion film market that has just emerged from nowhere,” he said. “And it comes at a time when home video — DVD sales — have collapsed, and Europe is going backwards in terms of revenues. The arrival of China comes at a time when things were looking very worrisome. As in the wider economy, China and the United States need each other.”

But now that China is starting its inevitable takeover, buying up our theater chains (AMC) and buying into our studios (Sony, maybe Paramount) as precursor to complete ownership, Congress is getting nervous.

For their part, Chinese audiences are super fed up with the way Hollywood has used actresses like Fan Bingbing to pander to them.

Has the Toronto Film Festival become the San Diego Comic-Con of film festivals, i.e., too big and commercial for its own good? Probably, but so what? They’re are literally two other major film festivals with many of the same movies in the same month as TIFF:

And so thousands of people fork over $58 (including fees) to watch Oliver Stone and Joseph Gordon-Levitt present “Snowden” one week before it opens in theaters, making it possible for TIFF to bring the smaller movies that tend to get lost in the program — gems such as Katell Quillévéré’s ultra-humanist heart-transplant drama “Heal the Living” or world-premiere debut “Lady Macbeth” — back to the Lightbox after the press and industry have left town. But speaking as someone who would appreciate having a chance to discover more of these treasures during the course of the week, the solution seems clear: Only by programming fewer movies overall, and by spotlighting the genuinely strong work, will the genuinely deserving movies stand a chance of breaking out. Until then, TIFF is caught somewhere between being an embarrassment of riches and just a plain old embarrassment.

Fortune’s Michal Lev-ram is the latest in an increasingly long line of analysts to realize horror films represent Hollywood’s best return on investment these days:

In what was an otherwise mostly humdrum season, scary movies had a strong showing—four of them cracked the $100 million mark in global ticket sales. That’s nowhere near what typical blockbusters bring in, but horror delivered solid returns for the studios that distributed them. The genre often relies on unknown actors, so budgets can easily be kept to an average of about $5 or $6 million a pop.

Time Warner and 20th Century Fox head honchos both admitted their most recent film franchise installments (DC for the fromer, X-Men for the latter) kinda sucked.

Jurassic World is one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Ergo, the sequel is going to have one of the highest budgets of all time, or so we thought. Whatever. The budget’s going to be dino-sized either way.


The CW turns 10 this year, and Variety thinks it’s pretty amazing the way the studio has turned into itself into the home of critically-acclaimed, niche female programming (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin) and broadly appealing, male-leaning superhero programming.

Maybe Todd MacFarlane should just give up on making another Spawn movie and simply update the old animated series.


Sugarland Express. I recently saw it for the first time. Wow, what the heck is going on with Goldie Hawn in that movie? Everyone always harps on Kate Capshaw in Temple of Doom and with good cause, but Spielberg’s first film features an equally troubling female lead. Mulling that over for a future article.

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