This morning I woke up to the following article in the Hollywood Reporter, “China’s Recon Group in Talks To Acquire Millennium Films.” Most of you are aware I was the General Counsel of Millennium Films for the past 20 years. I left that position in July, 2016. It was a long, good run. And, most of it was fun. Millennium has been for sale almost two years now. During that time, it almost sold a few times. Well, now it appears, it may be close again. However, I’m a bit concerned. Why – You may ask? Because, this sale is just another, in what appears to be a Chinese Entertainment Invasion.
According to the Hollywood Reporter article cited above:
Over the past few years, Chinese firms have been acquiring U.S. media companies with ever greater frequency. Other high-profile acquisitions include Dalian Wanda Group’s purchase of Legendary Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions, for $3.5 billion and $1 billion, respectively. Last summer, Los Angeles-based Tang Media Partners, which is backed by Chinese investment, snapped up Stuart Ford’s IM Global, while Alibaba Pictures Group took a stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.
What that article does not mentioned is that Dalian also owns the AMC Theater Chain. Additionally, the following companies are also either owned or heavily invested in by the Chinese: Carmike Theaters, STX Entertainment, and Studio 8. There are also reports that Voltage Pictures has an offer to be bought by a Chinese Company. Although, that offer seems to now be fake.
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure this is a good thing. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s bad. I really don’t believe Chinese Entertainment involvement is good for the Entertainment Industry. Especially, not in the numbers and the dollars currently involved.
The Risks of Chinese Entertainment
Many of you probably don’t know this. But, back in the 1930s, studios were afraid to make anti-German movies because Germany was a big market for US films. It never became a major issue because, at some point, everyone knew that Fascism was bad. Anti-German movies became the norm. And, the thoughts of losing German revenue became irrelevant.
Well, just imagine how much this would be multiplied if the Chinese Entertainment Industry became one of the major owners of the US Entertainment Industry. That’s where it seems we are heading. If things continue at the current pace, the Chinese will be controlling the content of motion pictures and television. And, it will not be just in the United States. It will be worldwide.
Keep in mind, the Chinese are still Communists. And, Communists tend to censor. For the past 100 plus years, the motion picture industry has not been subject to censorship. Yes, it self censors and yes, the MPAA rates movies based upon their suitability for certain age groups. But, it has never censored based upon political content.
Chinese censorship is already being considered in all development rooms around Hollywood. After all, China is the second biggest market. If you do not qualify for Chinese distribution, you’re losing a lot of money. However, this is still voluntary censorship. With Chinese ownership, comes mandatory censorship. And, mandatory censorship is is bad – very bad.
We Need Regulatory Control of Chinese Purchases
I’m a Republican and have always been one. I’m also a Conservative. I know regulation is usually a bad thing. However, I have to say the First Amendment is way more important. And, in my opinion, the First Amendment is now at risk. Mandatory censorship from a foreign government is a direct affront on the First Amendment.
The only way to resolve this is to regulate and put limitations on Chinese ownership of American media companies. The regulations can be as simple as no-censorship permitted prior to a sale commencing. But, these regulations must be there. Without them, we may find ourselves indoctrinated even more into a left wing agenda. And, this one won’t be coming from within the United States. It will be coming from outside.
And, my friends, that is not a good thing.