Just like "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" between the United States and China 48 years ago, the diplomacy around filmmaking is a strong and constructive force that glues the two countries together today, a California-based producer has said.
The Ping-Pong diplomacy moment of 1971 shows that there's always a humanistic motivation to keep the two sides talking even during tumultuous times, said Chris Fenton, senior adviser to IDW Media Holdings and a trustee of the U.S.-Asia Institute, in a recent interview.
Fenton has recently taken a U.S. Congressional delegation to China with the hope of better understanding the U.S.-China relations and fostering links between the legislators of the United States and China.
Calling the 12-day trip "amazing," Fenton said, "We absolutely have to continue the exchange of culture and commerce between the two countries, because the alternative is a Cold War."
"Our discussion level with China is very limited, and where we need to get is to a point where we agree to disagree on things," said Fenton, who produced or supervised 20 films, including Iron Man 3, Point Break, 47 Ronin and Looper.
The "beauty" of China is that the Chinese people like American culture and there is a real "emotional and humanistic connection" between the two countries, which is a strong connection to combine with commerce, he said.
Taking Iron Man 3 for example, Fenton said Marvel and Disney made that movie in partnership with a Chinese studio, and the movie ended up being the biggest box office hit at the time.
Collaboration on the movie between the two countries also fostered a commercial success, said Fenton, who has visited China frequently in the past two decades.
China has brought 400 million people into the middle class in the last 20 years, which is an adventure that no other country has ever embarked on, said Fenton, adding that "they are continuing to bring more into the middle class."
China, the fastest growing film market in the world, is expected to exceed North America as the world's largest market in box office and audience numbers by 2020.
In 2009, there were 5,000 movie screens in China and today there are almost 70,000, while in the United States the number is roughly 40,000, Fenton said.
Fenton is currently working on a project that is going to incorporate both the United States and China in filmmaking with a goal to achieve "a big global success."
"If you can make a piece of content work in both the United States and China, which are the two largest markets in the world, then it will work everywhere else. So now, that's what everyone is focused on," he said.