James Cameron Takes Advantage of Emerging 3D Chinese Market

James Cameron toasts to the new deal with his Chinese partners. (Andy Wong, AP / Lehtikuva)

China made waves last year when a 3D, big production, soft pornography movie was released in Hong Kong and attracted massive tourism from the mainland.  Readers abroad saw it as a Chinese phenomenon regarding sex.  But it was actually more of an indication that 3D was gaining massive traction there.

Famed director James Cameron (along with his 3D photography consultant, Vince Pace) has announced that his Cameron Pace Group (CPG) will launch a new joint venture in China to promote the usage and optimization of 3D at Chinese theaters and in the movies. They’ve worked out a deal with two Chinese film companies – the state-owned Tianjin North Film Group and the Tianjin High-tech Holding Group. China, like other Asian markets, is a major market for 3D film. Considering that China is an emerging market for virtually all industries, the fact 3D is popular is a huge boon for Hollywood.

Audience members watch a movie through 3D glasses at a IMAX theatre in Wuhan of Hubei Province, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)

China is leading the wave of non-American popularity for 3D; the demand is also for higher quality pictures, providing ample reason for 3D consultants to extend their craft to China. CPG may triple in size because of this deal, according to the Los Angeles Times:

Cameron said this is the first step in a global expansion for the company, part of a push to make 3D technology the universal film standard worldwide.

“Our fantasy is that China will set the path and the rest of the world will look and say, ‘They’re going straight into 3D production,’” said Cameron.

China, the fastest-growing world film market, has been quick to embrace 3D cinema. Cameron’s 3D “Avatar” was the biggest-grossing movie of all time in China, with around two-thirds of the total Chinese revenue of $208 million coming from 3D screenings. The re-release of Cameron’s “Titanic” in 3D made as much money in China as it made in all other international markets (excluding North America) combined.

Five of China’s top-grossing films in 2011 — all of them American made — were in 3D. “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon,” for which CPG provided the 3D technology, was also a hit in the Middle Kingdom. Out of the movie’s $350 million in box office receipts worldwide, $168 million came from China.

IMAX is also making efforts in China, signing a deal with China’s Huayi Bros. to expand their film partnership.

All of this is part of a general Chinese push to have more investment and involvement in American filmmaking.

It isn’t just an effort to put Chinese products in American movies, but also a way of “sanitizing” China’s image abroad and particularly in the United States.  Notable examples of China itself being the stage of American films come from 2008′s The Dark Knight when Batman travels to Hong Kong to capture a fugitive and 2013′s upcoming Iron Man 3 where a Chinese villain will be featured alongside, assuredly, Chinese good guys teaming up with Iron Man to hunt him down.

James Cameron's "Avatar"

No matter what the reasons behind these moves, China is increasingly the setting for big time Hollywood and all of Hollywood’s trends.  Cameron himself is rumored to be thinking of using Chinese-looking Na’vi in his rumored sequels to Avatar.  He also anticipates the rise of no-glasses 3D TV will coincide well with the rise of movies in China:

“[The industry] has got to over the chauvinism of thinking through from a US perspective. If you want to make movies for the US, fine. If you want to make movies for the global market, think global.”

On the future of 3D TV, Cameron said no-glasses TV’s could significantly boost the 3D’s prospects in as little as a year’s time.

China is on pace to overtake other major foreign markets (relative to the United States).  China’s box office numbers for The Dark Knight Rises, which only just opened there last week, are already on pace to pass the United Kingdom’s (which has had the movie in theaters for a month and a half already).  Cameron’s moves in China are unrelated to his other production company’s very, very recent bankruptcy filing: Digital Domain Media Group Inc.


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