China, currently the second largest movie market in the world, is projected to become the largest movie-going audience surpassing the U.S. by the end of the decade (Schwartzel, 2016). With the rise of China’s movie-viewing audience and the Chinese economy, conglomerates like Dalian Wanda Group (“Wanda”), a media and commercial property conglomerate, led by mogul Wang Jianlin, have increasingly invested in successful Hollywood companies including AMC theaters and Legendary Pictures (Faughnder, 2016; Kaiman and Meyers; Zhang and Miller, 2016). Alibaba Pictures, another Chinese company, and the entertainment division of Jack Ma’s e-commerce empire, has partnered with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners to co-finance and co-produce movies that will succeed in China’s rapidly growing film market, as well as within the U.S. and elsewhere (Faughnder, 2016).
The purpose of this study is to examine the strategies and methods Hollywood executives take to ensure their films appeal to the Chinese market. Eighteen Hollywood executives from studios, production companies, talent agencies and talent management companies were interviewed for this study. Interviews were conducted in person in Los Angeles or over the phone for 15 to 30 minutes each.
After the completion of interviews, China’s influence on Hollywood became readily apparent. Evidence of this influence can be seen through the rise of Chinese elements in Hollywood films including: Chinese stars, Chinese locations, and Chinese product placement. As the Chinese market continues to rise, more collaboration between Hollywood and China will continue to occur.
This project taught me how to work with databases, interview subjects, analyze data, and further fueled my interest in learning more about China and studying Mandarin. Most importantly, this project taught me about the future direction Hollywood is heading as Chinese box office continues to rise.