China’s $8 Billion Plan To Rival Hollywood

Hollywood gets ‘Instructions’ on Hispanic audiences

The Hollywood Film Festival is in a tough spot with its mid-October dates falling between the Toronto International Film Festival and L.A.’s own AFI Fest in November. To distinguish itself, the festival, under new leadership, says it is striving to be “more relevant” as it launches its 17th annual event Oct. 18 to 20 at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, showing 25 features and a still-to-be-announced selection of shorts. The festival will include a Celebrating Hollywood spotlight, featuring films that either were shot in Los Angeles or reference show business. Among the films in the spotlight are two world premieres — A Star for Rose, directed by Daniel Yost and starring Debbie Allen, and Jill DAgnenicas Life Inside Out, a story that brings both elements as it centers on a mother pursuing her dream of a career in music in Los Angeles. As well, the festival will screen Burton and Taylor, the BBC Four telefilm starring Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor during their 1983 stage production of Noel Cowards Private Lives. (Director Richard Laxton is scheduled to attend.) PHOTOS: Billion-dollar movie club Were here in the motion picture capital of the world, and for Hollywood as a city and the festival as a brand I think theres an opportunity to do something really unique, said Jon Fitzgerald, the festival’s new executive director, in a phone interview Tuesday morning. Fitzgerald came on board in the spring, having previously been associated with the Slamdance, AFI Fest, Santa Barbara and Abu Dhabi film festivals. Though the festival will forgo official opening and closing night events, some highlights of the festivals first night include The Red Robin, starring Judd Hirsch, the Spanish documentary Walking the Camino and the documentary Drew: The Man behind the Poster, a look at legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan. Fitzgerald is also a founder of CineCause, a philanthropic platform that connects audiences with the causes behind social-issue films. A number of such films will be playing as part of the CineCause Spotlight, including the documentaries Friends of Mine, Tiny , and Sundance Award winner Blood Brother. PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times Fitzgerald noted that many social-issue films get audiences energized over a topic but leave them unable or unclear on how to turn that enthusiasm into direct engagement. Were going to take that a step further, connecting audiences so that rather than walk out of the theater to move on with their day, they can be engaged enough and inspired to get involved in that cause, whether its the environment or human rights, he said. That can be options to donate or get involved. Just being able to take action is something we want to foster here. By introducing these kinds of spotlight programming, Fitzgerald hopes to overcome the obstacles of putting on a three-day event in the crush of the fall film season. Were not trying to be Toronto, were not trying to be Sundance, he said. Ultimately, it is still about discovery, and a lot of these films will probably not have a traditional theatrical release.

Wang and his firm Dalian Wanda Group hope the “Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis” — covering 1.5 square miles — will become a global magnet for film stars, movie studios and tourists. The company said it had reached preliminary agreements with various media giants to shoot 30 foreign films in the studios each year, in addition to plans for 100 Chinese films and television shows. The blueprint for the ‘metropolis’ includes plans for 20 studios and the world’s only fixed underwater studio . Related: China’s richest man worth $22 billion But overtaking Hollywood isn’t enough. Wang hopes Qingdao will eventually challenge Disney ( DIS , Fortune 500 ) and the Cannes film festival. Wanda Group expects crowds will flock to the city’s theme parks , celebrity wax museums, hotels and water-front bars. And plans are in place for the new facilities to host an international film festival from 2016. Wang’s Wanda Group has made no secret about its international ambitions , recently paying over $1.6 billion to buy the British yacht maker Sunseeker , which crafts vessels for James Bond films. The firm also announced plans to develop a five-star hotel and apartment complex in a prime London location. Last year, Wanda bought cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings in a $2.6 billion deal. Wang said he expects China’s box office revenue will surpass North America’s by 2018. Why Chinese are buying U.S.

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“But even in the testing (with sample audiences), we were scoring higher than we thought. It was clear we’ve just been scratching the surface of the Latino market.” Latino moviegoers are diverse That market will soon take on a more international flair. Upcoming Latino-themed movies include: Pulling Strings (Oct. 4), a romantic comedy featuring Mexican star Jaime Camil that is half-English, half-Spanish and includes bit parts by Stockard Channing and Tom Arnold. Chavez (April 4), a biopic about Cesar Chavez. The English-language film stars Michael Pena as Chavez and co-stars Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich. The Mexorcist (no release date), the graphic-novel adaptation about a fallen exorcist called back to duty when his brother is murdered by a Mexican drug cartel. Presburg says that while there is no monolithic Latino market “there’s a Mexican audience, Cuban, Puerto Rican” he expects more studios to follow suit with specialty divisions. “It’s not that different from most moviegoers: If they’ve got a choice between Transformers and a small Mexican movie, most people are still going to choose Transformers,” he says. “What’s changing is you’re seeing more choices for that community, which is why we’ll see more subtitles and bilingual movies. You’ll see a lead character who doesn’t speak English.” Derbez will be happy to play one. He says that, for all his newfound success in the USA, he remains mystified by the country’s impression of its neighbor to the south and its residents. “I love American movies,” Derbez says. “So do most people who know my movies. But you use Mexicans who are not really Mexicans.