There could be an unlikely gainer in the ongoing trade war between China and the US. Chinese media have pointed out that the Indian film industry stands to make major gains if Hollywood movies too are dragged into the tit-for-tat trade war.
Chinese English-language daily Global Times has carried an article in Wednesday's edition pointing out the opportunity for Bollywood and other Indian film industries to broaden their wings in the Chinese market.
And, here is why. China follows a quota system for foreign films. The US can screen 34 of its films a year in China. It also raised India's quota to 34 films in 2017, after the success of movies like '3 Idiots', 'Dangal', 'Secret Superstar', 'Hindi Medium' and 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'.
China allows these foreign films to be screen on a revenue-sharing basis, with the foreign filmmaker getting less than 40 percent of the box office collections. However, given the size of the market base, and the fact that China is the second largest movie market in the world, even this minority stake is significant.
"Hollywood movies are part of the services trade, and the impact of the current trade tension will go beyond goods to other areas," said Bai Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, to Global Times.
Other researchers in China this this might end up creating more space for Indian films. "Given the US-China trade friction and Chinese audience's aesthetic fatigue toward American films, the Indian film industry will have greater opportunities," said Tian Guang
Between 2016 and 2018, eight Indian movies were imported into China, according to a Chinese film industry specialist. Together, they earned 2.79 billion yuan. That's a whopping Rs 2,900 crore. Of this, 'Dangal' alone made about 1.3 billion yuan, or Rs 1,400 crore.
However, the trade war has not yet caught up with Hollywood. Whether Indian cinema will rise to the opportunity if the time comes remains to be seen.