At the ongoing Beijing Film Festival, film-makers from around the world have been considering market potential of joint film productions and looking for better ways to cooperate.
Sources with the festival said of 700 Chinese films produced in 2016, 73 were Chinese-foreign co-productions with 14 countries and regions having movie production agreements with China.
However, the box office of the joint productions were not so impressive. According to Entgroup, a media and entertainment consultancy, most joint production movies lost money, citing the Sino-French production of "The Warriors Gate" and epic action-adventure film directed by Zhang Yimou "The Great Wall."
Rock bottom of the list was "Rock Dog" produced by Huayi Brothers Media Group and Dreamworks at a cost of 410 million yuan (60 million U.S. dollars), which grossed only 40 million yuan.
Many at the film festival blamed the joint production system. Critic Han Haoyue said among joint productions, many were only nominally "joint."
"Some cooperation was merely in terms of funding and operations," he said.
Han said it is culture, rather than investment that China should offer the world movie industry.
Aamir Khan, Indian actor and director best known in China for his comedy drama 3 Idiots, believes that so long as a film tells a good story, it goes beyond national and cultural borders.
His view is shared by Rob Cohen, creator of the Fast and the Furious. He remembers watching Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine and seeing the richness and beauty of Chinese culture, which had been unfamiliar to him. He himself makes a lot of effort to show foreign cultures in his own films.
Chinese director Chen Kaige said at the film festival that Sino-foreign film co-production needs both sides to share "the feeling of falling in love."
Chen is working on a Chinese-Japanese co-production "Kukai" scheduled for release by the end of the year.
"If producers from different countries had a feeling of falling in love, they would devote their love and passion to the project," he said, adding his concern that some co-production just showed a few exotic elements or a single actor as a guest performer to woo the market.
Preparations for "Kukai" have taken six years. The drama based on a novel by Yumemakura Baku stars both Chinese and Japanese actors.
Despite the immaturity of sino-foreign film co-production, the Chinese market is tempting. Chinese cinemas sold a total of 1.4 billion tickets in 2016, more than the total number of U.S. and Canadian moviegoers.
According to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, China's box office sales in 2016 reached 45.7 billion yuan, up 3.73 percent year on year.
"Cooperation should be on equal basis, learning from one another's strong points. Otherwise, it is nothing but a pro forma," said Han Haoyue.