US production house Lionsgate have partnered up with Chinese company Infinity Pictures and Yue Hua Entertainment Culture Communications to produce the next installment in the popular and lucrative Step Up series of youth-focused dance dramas. The big difference, however, is that Step Up 6 will be in Mandarin, under the direction of Ron Yuan, with an all-Chinese cast.
This sort of thing has been on the horizon for a while. The growing importance of the Chinese box office, a result of the strong Chinese economy and the incredibly rapid growth of the Chinese middle class, has led to changes in the way American film productions operate that may go unnoticed by those not paying attention. Chinese co-productions have become more and more common – even Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, released today in Australia, is a co-pro – and the insertion of elements specifically to appeal to Chinese audiences, whether it be well known Chinese actors or a whole new scene, ala Iron Man 3, is quickly becoming standard operating procedure. As the Chinese box office achieves primacy over English language territories, it makes basic economic sense to make movies specifically tailored for that market. Expect more of this sort of thing in the very near future.
Step Up 6 begins shooting in Beijing and Los Angeles this December. In the meantime, here’s the advance poster: