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October 31, 2016

October 28th News Report from your Los Angeles Representative

Weekly Update from Kelly Graham-Scherer, Los Angeles Representative

Happy Friday everyone,

The Los Angeles-based trades are still buzzing over Wanda Chairman Wang Jialin's visit to Hollywood last week, his unveiling of the massive Qingdao Movie Metropolis and the 40% production tax incentive designed to lure filmmakers there. This week saw the publication of a few more in-depth articles about these developments and how Jialin's investments in Hollywood are being viewed by industry stakeholders.

As reported in Variety below, while Jialin's visit prompted multiple pronouncements of international amity, there lies underneath a level of unease. Wanda is on a buying spree that has triggered alarms in Washington; Congress is taking a closer look at Chinese involvement in the entertainment industry amid fears of censorship and propaganda.

Forbes this week featured a widely-syndicated editorial piece by columnist Gordon Chang who suggests that Washington severely restrict access to American cinemas for Chinese-made films, just as China currently restricts the exhibition of foreign-made films. Chang argues thatWashington has, in general, failed to insist on reciprocity and therefore failed to protect its businesses and workers.

In a related vein, the LA Times this week reported that a weak summer for the Chinese box office has caused jitters for those who have invested heavily in its much-hyped rise. As detailed below, ticket sales in China during the last six months have been down by 10% compared with the same period last year and that’s a striking turnaround for a country that saw a nearly 50% jump in box office receipts in 2015.

In other big, not-related-to-China, news this week, AT&T’s $85.4-billion takeover of Time Warner Inc. is being touted as the most dramatic example yet of the shift in the balance of power in Hollywood from the big screen to the small screen. As detailed in the Times below (before the deal was formally announced), both companies are laboring to hold onto customers and confronting how to deliver content to younger consumers who are turning away from traditional media.

A new report from the California Film Commission released this week examined union employment data to determine that the state's expanded $330 million film incentives program in its first full year has generated an estimated $1.5 billion in direct in-state spending, including $600 million in below-the-line wages. As reported in Deadline below, so far, six shows have relocated to California including Mistresses from Vancouver.

As of today, the strike by SAG-AFTRA video game voice actors is a week old. As reported in the Hollywood Reporter, members this week picketed the offices of Electronic Arts in support of the union’s strike against the nearly $100 billion industry.

Finally this week, the LA Times featured a really engaging article about Lionsgate's strategy to turn top Youtube celebrities into movie stars. As detailed below, the studio's attention on influential online personalities, who have a massive sway with young viewers, comes at the time when Hollywood is struggling to reach younger audiences who are consuming entertainment in new ways.

Warmest regards,


Kelly Graham-Scherer
Los Angeles Representative
Toronto/ Ontario Film Office

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