Last Friday, the Box Office release of “The Great Wall”, the much hyped movie directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Matt Damon in China (it releases February 17, 2017 in US). The film had a budget of $150M, and is now the largest recorded China/US co-production budget for a film ever shot in China. This is telling of the future of the global Box Office climate. If “The Great Wall” is a box office success, it may be used as a standard and reference for large-budget co-productions in the future. Of the $150M budget, $45M was provided solely from Chinese private investors, an unprecedented quantity for a China/US co-production. Why did “The Great Wall” receive so much Chinese funding compared to the average Hollywood-China co-production? For the first time, the plot of the story was did not have subtle ‘chinese influences’ for Chinese audiences to grasp hold off, in return for financing or Chinese market exposure. In this particular case, the entire story originates and is centered around Chinese culture. This film can be used as a litmus test to predict the future of the global box office, and how production companies can learn from the cultures of their respective foreign partners to develop and release the finest product possible.
Peter Loehr, producer of ‘The Great Wall,’ told The New York Times “In general the U.S. system of everybody being super independent and each department head having their own little fiefdom and only presenting finished work versus the Chinese system where everyone wants to ask the director every single little detail — I think there’s probably a middle ground to be found somewhere there. I think we need to probably start thinking less about China and how to make a good movie that has Chinese elements.”