France and China are on the verge of signing a motion picture coproduction treaty that will facilitate the access of French films to one of the world’s fastest-growing motion picture markets.
The treaty was not signed as planned during the visit to France of the director of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), Wang Taihua, on November 7, 2008, due to "administrative and timing issues." However, in a joint announcement France’s Minister of Culture, Christine Albanel, and Wang Taihua said they were very pleased by the successful completion of the four year negotiations between the two countries regarding the treaty.
The coproduction treaty, the content of which is not yet public, will permit French/Chinese coproductions to benefit from all advantages available for national films in both countries. This treaty will permit, for example, French films coproduced with a Chinese coproduction partner to be considered
Chinese for purposes of the Chinese motion picture quotas, and Chinese films coproduced with French coproduction partners to be considered French for purposes of French quotas. It is not clear yet how much respective Chinese and French content will be required in order for a coproduced motion picture to qualify under the treaty.
China imposes strict quotas, allowing only 20 non- Chinese films per year to be released on a revenue sharing basis and establishes China Film as the sole legal distributor of non-Chinese films. A further 30 films per year can be imported on flat fee basis.
At present, only a few films have been contractually coproduced by French and Chinese production companies. Few Chinese films have been coproduced with French coproduction partners, "Summer Palace," a 2006 film from the Chinese director Lou Ye, has been coproduced with the French company Rosem Films and benefited from subsidies from Fonds Sud Cinéma, a fund established by the French Ministry for Culture and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Another example is "Voiture de Luxe," from Wang Chao, released in France in 2006 and coproduced by Rosem Films, Arte France cinema and Bai Bu Ting Media.
The treaty with France will be China’s fourth international coproduction treaty. China signed coproduction treaties with Canada in 1987, Italy in 2004, and Australia in August 2007. According to the Hollywood Reporter’s website, China is negotiating similar treaties with India and Great Britain (see here). France already signed 48 international coproduction treaties, the two latest being the coproduction treaty with Korea in October 2006 and the treaty with Algeria in December 2007 http://www.cnc.fr/Site/Template/A2.aspx?SELECTID= 35&id=36&t=2
The coproduction treaty between France and China will probably be signed during the next visit of the Chinese Prime Minister to France, scheduled for mid-December 2008. This treaty would then enter into force around March 2009.