China’s move to open up its movie market to overseas production was seen as an encouragement for its citizens to watch foreign films and could be a sign of relaxing attitudes towards foreign influence.

According to the Financial Times, Beijing raised its limit of 20 foreign films a year to 34 following a World Trade Organization ruling demanding the country to “relax and reform its import and distribution regime for foreign films”. The additional 14 will be shown in 3D or Imax format. Foreign films took Rmb 5.27 billion (US$827 m) in ticket sales in the first half of this year and are expected to exceed domestic box-office sales. China is also building new cinemas in an attempt to cope with the demand, in a bid to surpass Japan as the world’s second-largest movie market this year.

Beijing frustrates film companies by regulating competition with local distribution rules which set release dates in such a way that Hollywood movies do not coincide with local films.