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China's film industry on the rise
China's film industry has been growing exponentially and is now second only to Hollywood in size, but many films in China struggle to make a profit.

The problem is due largely to the prevalence of piracy.

Huey Fern Tay speaks with Lu Chuan, one of China's top filmmakers.
KESHA WEST, PRESENTER: China's film industry is growing exponentially and is now second only to Hollywood in size.

Last year box office sales rose by more than a third, to $2.7 billion, attracting the attention of Hollywood.

The blockbuster Iron Man 3 was remade with scenes in China to appeal to audiences there, and also to gain a wider release under Chinese rules.

But many films made in China struggle to make a profit, largely because of the prevalence of piracy.

Lu Chuan is one of China's top filmmakers, and he spoke to Huey Fern Tay in Beijing.

HUEY FERN TAY, REPORTER: Lu Chuan, welcome.


HUEY FERN TAY: Hollywood has shown, through Iron Man 3, for example, it is very serious in getting more of its films shown in China. They're willing to put in the effort, the extra money involved into making a version just for the Chinese market. So as a local filmmaker, are you feeling the heat, the competition?

LU CHUAN: Yes. For the last several years more and more Hollywood movies entered Chinese market, and they make huge money here. And the Chinese local audience did really love American movies, and they just, you know, support American movies. And as a local filmmaker, I think itís a big competition.

HUEY FERN TAY: So what are you doing personally, for example, to win over audiences to make sure that you don't lose out?

LU CHUAN: I think now Chinese movies are facing a good challenge and facing a good opportunity, and all the local filmmakers are trying to do some changes to face the challenge.

For the last six months the biggest top five big box office movies are not Hollywood movies but Chinese local movies. So I think we're doing the change to make our movies more entertaining, more commercial, not so serious as before you know. We are doing the change, trying to follow the tastes, follow the tastes of the market, follow the interests of the audience, yeah.

HUEY FERN TAY: So you think previously Hollywood movies did much better at the box office as compared to Chinese productions because Hollywood movies were simply just more entertaining and more refreshing?

LU CHUAN: More refreshing, more entertaining and more, how how to say, I mean the spirit is more free.

HUEY FERN TAY: People in the film industry say the rules about what can be filmed or what can't be filmed are very ambiguous, so as a filmmaker how do you navigate that grey area?

(Footage from The Last Supper plays)

LU CHUAN: I, for my last movie, for example, The Last Supper, we had to change the structure of the movie and we had to re-edit the whole movie.

So I think the Chinese movie industry is moving forward and are making huge progress. But I do believe some day in the future, maybe three years or five years, the situation from the censorship system I hope we can change the whole system, we can have 100 per cent freedom to make what kind of content we want to.

HUEY FERN TAY: So right now, is it possible for any filmmaker in China to make a film whereby there's, for example, a Godzill- like character creating havoc in Tiananmen Square, perhaps causing destruction as well to the CCTV tower. Is it possible for that sort of thing to happen?

LU CHUAN: I'm afraid not (laughs). You know, I guess, no.

HUEY FERN TAY: Why is that?

LU CHUAN: Itís very interesting, very good question, you know. Since the opening up, Chinese filmmaking, Chinese film industry becomes more and we're starting, we are learning from Hollywood system, we're we just lot of American movies enter the Chinese market. So the government started to learn the nature of filmmaking belongs to entertainment, not propaganda, you know.

So I think we need time to make everybody understand filmmaking is filmmaking, it is nothing to do with history, education, it is nothing to do with propaganda. And itís - filmmaking is kind of a gift for the audience. It is entertaining, you know. So we need time to educate everybody.

HUEY FERN TAY: On that positive I would like to thank you for joining us on the program. Thank you, Lu Chuan.

LU CHUAN: Itís a huge honour. Thank you. Sorry for my English (laughs).
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