Action star Jackie Chan said opening up China’s heavily-restricted film market to more foreign works would put positive pressure on local filmmakers, as rumors swirl Beijing will expand its quota on imported movies.
Since 2012, China has permitted 34 films to be imported from overseas each year, but the state-run Global Times newspaper reported last month that Chinese and U.S. officials are renegotiating the limit.
A shakeup in domestic movie offerings would challenge Chinese filmmakers to produce better work, Chan told reporters at a Tuesday press conference during the annual gathering of China’s political advisory committee, of which he is a member.
“Their technology is more advanced than ours, but on the other hand, we will have more opportunities to watch their films and learn from them,” he said.
“We are concerned – very afraid – but I believe that this kind of pressure is a positive thing…the more films that come in, the more we will ourselves improve.”
Hollywood films accounted for more than half of China’s 45.3 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) in ticket sales last year.
Several Chinese executives also made investments in major Hollywood studios in 2016, drawing attention to China’s growing influence over U.S. films.
The Beijing-based Wanda Group broke records last January by paying $3.5 billion for Legendary Pictures, the maker of “Jurassic World” and “Godzilla.”
This move was followed by Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma’s investment in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners and a reportedly $1-billion agreement between Paramount and two Chinese companies.
The deals have been accompanied by concerns that Hollywood is increasingly pandering to Chinese audiences.
Chan said he frequently fields collaboration requests from firms eager to exploit the country’s burgeoning box office, now the world’s second-largest movie market after North America.
“I recently attended a meeting with several major executives who said ‘okay’ to every suggestion I gave,” he said.
“My assistant told me, ‘You’re so awesome.’ I said, ‘I’m not awesome. It’s today’s Chinese market that is awesome.’ Everyone wants to do business here.”