China's new film industry law provides the regulation needed to help bring the fast-growing market into a golden era, according to industry insiders.
The law, which took effect March 1, clarifies punishment for fabrication of box office revenue, increases government investment in the industry and reduces taxes, among other provisions.
Over the past few years, the film industry has developed into one of the most active and bright fields in China's cultural sector.
According to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China's box office sales in 2016 reached 45.71 billion yuan ($6.64 billion), up 3.73 percent year on year.
China produced 944 films in 2016, and the box office sales of domestic films topped 26.66 billion yuan, accounting for 58.33 percent of total box office sales, the SAPPRFT said.
The law will help develop China's film industry, which has grown rapidly in past years and entered a period of stable improvement, said Yin Hong, a professor at Tsinghua University, in a report by the People's Daily.
Yin compared the law to a measuring stick for government regulators and film industry professionals to set legal standards in communication, trade and competition.
The law protects intellectual property and delivers a blow to fabricated box office figures as well as pirated copies of films, said Zhang Hongsen, head of the film bureau at the SAPPRFT.
Zhang said that the law also plays a role in promoting Chinese movie exports to extend visibility and impact overseas.
Zhang was echoed by La Peikang, chairman of China Film Co., Ltd., who said that China should promote more movies overseas that tell Chinese stories.
La also emphasized "cultural confidence", telling good Chinese stories, attracting audience and ensuring the sustainable development of the film industry through regulation.
Although box office revenues account for just a small portion of China's GDP, Yin said, movies have immeasurable value for its national image, tourism, advertising, fashion and international trade.
Yin added that starting from World War I, films have been part of the development strategy of the United States. China's new law protects intellectual property and encourages film-related merchandise and licensing. These gestures "reflect the important role of movies in China's overall development strategy," said Yin.
Revenues and praise
Quality movies cannot be made crudely for quick profits, said Yu Dong, CEO of Bona Film Group. Instead, quality movies are the result of cultural confidence and the spirit of craftsmanship, he continued.
Yu cited Taking of Tiger Mountain, an action movie about a real-life Chinese undercover agent in northeast China after World War II. "It brought in both box office revenues and public praise," said Yu.
In addition to high-quality movies, La pointed out the need to address problems such as fabricating box office earnings.
"The film industry law shoots the arrow at these areas in legal form and will bring more order and prosperity to the industry," said La.
China's box office revenues have been increasing at 30 percent for almost ten years. The slowing growth rate last year has spurred extensive concerns. However, Zhang disagreed that this suggests an inflexion point.
In order to protect film workers, China needs to establish a system in which good movies get good returns, said Yu.
The law specifies that people working in the film industry must strive for "excellence in both professional skills and moral integrity," maintain self-discipline and create a positive public image.
Ning Hao, a director and scriptwriter, suggested a sense of honor for film workers to complement current market standards.