China's role in the entertainment industry is getting bigger, and Universal Pictures isn't ignoring it.
"China’s very important to the movie industry today," Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley said on Tuesday at Fortune's Most Powerful Summit in Laguna Nigel, Calif. "Any emerging market is very important."
Universal Pictures, known for blockbuster movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Meet the Parents, and Gladiator, views local Chinese companies as potential business partners, rather than competitors, explained Langley. Just five years ago, Universal didn't have any "boots on the ground" there, and was relying on third-party companies to distribute its movies. Today, it runs its own operations.
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China, whose demand for movies has exploded in recent years, has become an important market for entertainment companies. According to Langley, Universal takes the Chinese market into consideration quite early in the movie-making process—in fact, as soon as a project is green-lit. Questions range from whether any potential controversial content in a movie could be seen as problematic to Chinese authorities or sensibilities to whether there are any local partners it should contact.
As for the movies Universal's had the most success with in China?
The Fast and the Furious series, said Langley. "I think it’s just sort of agnostic—it’s action, it's really entertaining," she added. "I just think it appeals to the broadest range of people.”