Sony Pictures Bolsters Ties to China Market With Writers Program

China Box-Office Sales Slide in October

Sony Pictures Entertainment is planning an initiative with writers in China as part of the film company’s efforts to increase its presence in the world’s second-biggest movie market.

The studio, part of Tokyo-based Sony Corp., plans to work with and host established as well as up-and-coming writers, the company said Tuesday in a statement. Sony executives are participating this week in a series of presentations and conferences across Los Angeles on the topic of Chinese film and TV.

“As we look to make great content for global audiences, it’s critical that the writers we work with both here and in China understand each other’s cultures,” Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, said in a statement. “That’s the goal of this program.”

Under the initiative, Sony Pictures will select four writers at a time for a two-week stay in Los Angeles at Sony Pictures Studios with an itinerary of meetings, mutual education and discussion.

Sony Pictures, based in Culver City, California, is one of a growing number of major movie studios teaming up with Chinese groups. They are trying to ensure access for their films in a market that’s poised to overtake the U.S. in the coming years. Dalian Wanda Group Co., controlled by China’s second-richest man, announced in September a strategic partnership to invest in some Sony movies and help market them.

Wanda, the world’s largest theater owner, acquired independent film producer Legendary Entertainment this year, while Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd. bought a stake in Amblin Partners, the production business founded by Steven Spielberg, as part of a plan to produce, market and distribute movies globally.

A slowdown in the Chinese box office this year will mean the country may not overtake the U.S. until 2019, rather than 2017, according to Michael Ellis of the Motion Picture Association, who spoke Tuesday at a U.S. China film summit. China’s box-office revenue fell for a second straight month in October, sliding 20 percent from a year earlier.