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Movie Brothers

For several years now, China has been a lucrative market for films that have been distributed there, but only a limited number of the movies that are made in the U.S. and elsewhere are approved by the communist government. Communism, young folks are wise to recognize, involves centralized planning and control; and so much of what people in China consume in that country is subject to government approval. This is important because, as movie audiences in the U.S. continue to wane, international markets are becoming increasingly important to movie producers. And China is the largest market of all. But this post isn't just about the Chinese market, but more about the international markets for Chinese-made movies.

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In an interesting industry development, several upcoming movies produced by the Russo brothers will be funded at least in part by another set of brothers from China--the Huayi Brothers. The latter duo, based in Beijing, have tried to monetize their work globally for several years, from co-productions to the outright purchase of production studio Legendary Entertainment, with little success. In fact there has not yet been a Chinese-made movie that has succeeded on any meaningful international level. But the Huyai's hope that this will change with a $350 million investment in a new production venture called Agbo.

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Superheroes sell globally. In fact it's tough to miss your mark with a superhero movie these days. And the Brothers Russo do superhero movies very well; but this company will be about much more than costumed protagonists and antagonists.  Agbo is apparently an inside joke between the two Russo's, having to do with a name in the phone book (remember those?), but this joint venture is certainly no joke. Indeed Agbo is already in development on several fronts involving big budget features as well as smaller, more niche-oriented productions. And with the Russo's proven successes, it's hard to believe that one or more of these films won't break through. Of course, one could point out that these movies won't really be "Made in China", but rather they will be funded by Chinese investors. This is true, but nevertheless this partnership is an important milestone for the movie industry and for those in China with global aspirations.