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Hollywood looks to China for 3D movies

Audience members watch a movie through 3D glasses at a IMAX theatre in Wuhan of Hubei Province, China. Hollywood expects big audiences and big profits from offering the movies as a 3D experience in the country.

Jeff Horwich:  It was a slow weekend for the US box office, but today Hollywood's keeping an eye on China. The 3D versions of the new Batman and Spiderman movies both hit theaters there today. The 3D movie-going experience in China is taking off, and Hollywood is happy about that. Here's Marketplace's China Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz.


Rob Schmitz: Watching a movie in China can be miserable: you’ve got the many bland offerings from state television.

Tom Doctoroff: Or illegal DVDs. And the quality of that is very poor and very unreliable.

But if you want true entertainment, you go to the cinema, says Tom Doctoroff, author of the book "What Chinese Want."

Doctoroff: You can be assured of very good quality, and then 3D of course just brings that up another level.

Seven thousand of China’s 11,000 movie screens are 3D-ready. Tickets cost around $20 — and they make up half of China’s box office sales. "Avatar" director James Cameron recently announced his 3D technology company would team-up with the Chinese city of Tianjin to produce his future films there, including "Avatar 2." "Avatar" was the most popular film ever in China. Doctoroff says Cameron wants to sustain that momentum.

Doctoroff: I also suspect that this will help his relationship with the Chinese government in terms of future productions.

It will.

As it stands, an American studio typically recoups a quarter of the ticket sales on any film in China. Now that Cameron’s company is technically a Chinese producer, he could make nearly a half a big chunk, when you consider "Avatar" grossed $200 million in China alone.

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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