All of these international partnerships signal a move away from Chinese elements awkwardly shoehorned into American films and toward movies that feel more organically pitched toward that culture. The biggest hit in China this year, by far, was a Chinese-language film called The Mermaid, from Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer). “The Chinese love their culture, and they love to see it on-screen,” Bill Borden, an L.A.-based consulting producer on The Mermaid told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s why Stephen is so popular: he has a million little jokes and funny nuances in his movies that you just won’t get if you’re not Chinese. To continue to work in China in a big way, you’re going to have to be culturally sensitive.” Guess a well-placed cell phone or pandering cameo just isn’t the same.

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