Since the worldwide success of Zhang Yimou's "Hero" in 2002, Beijing is increasingly churning out glossy blockbusters whose production values (and budgets) rival those of Hollywood. This is all part of a China's plan to build a movie and entertainment industry, not just for its 1.3 billion inhabitants, but for the whole world—a $32 billion market.
"I really like it, and I take it very seriously," [Salma Hayek] tells reporters straining over the barrier for a comment about her role as a judge at this film festival. "It looks like they have built a great home for arts, culture and film." Who would believe she was talking about Qatar, a desert country of 1.7 million people...
As China continues to flex its economic muscles, there are rumblings that it could begin to encroach on an all-American commodity: the Hollywood blockbuster.
Faith-based film fans used to be seen as a niche audience. Now, in Hollywood, they’re just seen as the audience.
China is on course to build a record number of cinemas this year in a burst of movie infrastructure development that is partly aimed at rivalling the "soft power" of Hollywood. Following the state-backed expansion of China's TV and newspaper industries since 2009, the government is promoting a major push of film production and distribution.
Product placement is just one example of China's new love affair with Hollywood. Chinese production companies are looking to partner with Hollywood firms for everything from making films to managing China's growing number of theaters. And rumors persist that a Chinese company - spurred on by a government that wants to extend this country's "soft power" into the cultural sphere...
Have you heard of soft power? Me neither and yet the phrase was coined in 1989 by Clinton aide Joseph Nye, to mean a nation's cultural influence, or at least the influence it has that isn't economic or military. In the World Service's documentary of the same name, the first of two half-hours on this interesting topic, soft power was defined as "the power to be loved. Hard power is the power to be feared".