Co-Production Between China And India: Finding A Balance Point In Two Film Markets


During the Prime Minister of India’s visit, Narendra Modi, who made his official visit to China from 14thMay to 16thMay, witnessed the strategic collaboration agreement that has been signed between EROS and Shanghai Film Group. This collaboration will promote the development of two countries’ film markets, as well as the expansion of it. The collaboration between China and India not only explores business opportunities, but also strives towards a more industrialization and strategic way.

During Mr. Modi’s visit, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and the Embassy of India in China co-organized the “Sino-India Film Cooperation Press Conference”. At the same time, they announced the initiation of three co-production films between China and India, including “Kungfu Yoga”. Considering its array of creative members and story framework, the three co-production films will exceed all the previous co-production investment scales. With the Chinese Film Company dominating the films production process, the films will present cross-domain cultures and breaking of the language barrier in order to find the balance point of the two countries’ film markets. 

  • Modern Expression of Traditional Culture

Stanley Tong is the Scriptwriter, Director and Producer of the “Kungfu Yoga”. He deliberately selected the culture symbols Kungfu and Yoga; they have the effect of “when people hear the name of it will know it’s a co-production film between China and India.” Stanley revealed to the “Media & Entertainment Industry Reporter” that the script has been completed; the story will take place in “China, India, Dubai and Iceland.” It is a story about “an archaeologists who discovered the story between a Chinese General and a Yoga Ambassador that extended from the ancient era to modern era.” Stanley did not simply set "Kungfu" and "Yoga" as the identities of the characters; rather he looked deeply into “the integration of the Chinese Hero Culture within Kungfu and the pleasure within Yoga.” During the production process, Stanley dedicated himself to “demonstrate the communication between the ideology of governing a country and traditional culture.” 

Between the ancient and modern society space-time continuum, “the main part is the modern society.” As a skilled-expert in “action, comedy, adventure film type”, Stanley attempts to produce a story that not only shows the India’s “landscape, architecture and cultural characteristics”, but also “contains globalized content suited for the international market.” At the same time, Stanley will add some dance scenes to the film, “merging some Indian film styles and common film techniques.” Furthermore, it is important to “constantly research the audiences’ viewing habits of two countries; and on the basis of being accepted by both countries, another version that would be accepted by other countries could be considered.” 

According to the standard co-production agreement, “Kungfu Yoga” has Indian Film Companies as the investors. Stanley introduced that “in recent year, Hollywood bought some Indian film companies; meanwhile they transmitted the demand and indicators of international market to the India Film Industry.” “Hollywood producers will participate in the film production; this will upgrade the Indian Film Production level, increase the investment scale and become globalized”; “it has already reached the highest standard of international distribution’s requirements.” As benefits from the co-production’s policy, “Kungfu Yoga” will reach 12000 screens across India and 20000 screens in China, “these two sizeable film markets will ensure the box office and other international markets will be the profits.” Stanley also mentioned that the film has “huge investment”; “Chinese Film Companies is the leader in this project”; “it will be filmed in the form of 2D and will release 3D version in the future”; furthermore, “all copyrights are concentrated in China.”

With the aid of the co-production project, Stanley indicated that “all the sales’ data will be given to the producers”; these data will inform “overseas copyrights’ sales situation, if the sales are not great it would mean it is not suitable for all regions”; then they would adjust the creation and direction of investment. However, thinking in this way would require the director to be trained in industrialization of filmmaking.

According to Stanley’s previous filming experiences, he built a team that has “different nationalities”; including “Hong Kong photographer who has plenty experiences in action film”, “the best Chinese art director and lighting engineer” and “actors with huge influence in international film market such as Jackie Chan.” 

  • Opportunities And Challenges of The Two Huge Film Markets

Behind the diversified array of production teams and film production, the Production Company has been a strong support for the co-production film project between China and India. The reasons for investor’s enthusiasm are 1) the support from two countries’ policy, 2) Indian movies have been accumulated a fair amount of acceptable reputation in Chinese film market.

On September 18th2014, Cai Fuchao, the Chief of SARFT and Prakash Javadka, the Minister of India News Broadcasting Department together signed the “Arrangement of Cooperation Between the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of News Broadcasting of the Republic of India” before the Film Co-Production Agreement Between The Government of India and the Government of The People’s Republic of China has been published. In addition, the two countries’ governments that are in charge of the film department expect to hold a film festival and establish the film-marketing platform for two countries.

When talking about the difficulty of co-production between China and India, Shen Yang, Deputy President of China Film International (CFI) which is the new joint venture with China Film Co., Ltd, commented 

“Co-production has to be based on a relatively common market, but culture lens has to be diverse. It is very difficult to find the balance between gaining reputations and earning profit. Furthermore, Asian countries have diverse religions and cultures. In China, most of the Chinese blockbusters were heavily invested on the casts but the technical implementation was relatively small; it becomes harder to achieve successful ‘co-production’. If two sides agree that both technical support and content innovation are equally important, while gaining the audience of the two biggest film markets besides Hollywood and finding international distribution channels, this will ensure the increase of investment in Chinese films and the improvement of production quality.”