Rampant piracy, government censorship and foreign quotas can make China a highly unpredictable and frustrating market for Hollywood.
But one of China's top entertainment executives has some homespun advice: Make friends and be patient.
"To succeed in China, it's like the old the Chinese saying: Before business, make friends," said Jerry Ye, chief executive of Wanda Cinemas, at an international panel on the opening day of Cinemacon, the annual convention for the theater industry held in Las Vegas.
Ye also urged his American colleagues to see the long-term growth prospects of China, which is in the midst of a multiplex building boom and has emerged as the world's second-largest market for movies.
"By the end of 2020, the box office will surprise America," said Ye, whose company last year acquired AMC Entertainment and aims to further expand into Europe. "Work hard to grasp the opportunity."
Richard Gelfond, chief executive of Imax Corp., which has more than 100 theaters in China and is partners with Wanda, acknowledged the challenges of doing business in China.