To avoid these handicaps, foreign firms are ploughing money into “co-productions” with local partners.
Yet Chinese culture has proven even harder to master than its politics.
Clark Xu of CMC observes that “nobody has cracked the code on creating stories that can work in both China and the West.”
Tastes in China are also rapidly evolving, with younger consumers and those living in secondary cities now dominating ticket sales.
“It's not just a question of money,” insists Gregory Ouanhon of Fundamental Films, a film production and distribution firm in Shanghai.
上海电影制作发行公司基美影业的Gregory Ouanhon 强调：“这不仅是钱的问题。”
He thinks Western studios are finally realising how difficult and time-consuming a process it is to develop a script that appeals both to Chinese censors and to the country's cinema-goers.
Meanwhile, local rivals, long dismissed by Hollywood moguls as unsophisticated bumpkins, are getting into their stride.
Chinese film companies are investing in new technologies, improving creative capabilities and attracting more financial backing.
Powerhouses like Huayi Brothers Media and Beijing Enlight Media are now producing blockbusters of their own.
“Lost in Thailand”, a road-trip movie released by Enlight in 2012, became the first Chinese film to earn $200m at the box office.
“Lost in Hong Kong”, a sequel released at the end of September, earned over $100m on its opening weekend.
From storytelling nous to animation wizardry, Hollywood studios are still far ahead.
But Chinese upstarts could leapfrog them in one area: business models.
When it comes to the integration of the internet into the film business, “China beats Hollywood hands down,” Mr Shiao argues.
He thinks innovation in this area at Western firms is stifled by concerns about such things as pay-television rights and DVD sales—markets that never took off in China.
Free of such legacy issues, Chinese firms are experimenting with their business models to develop new online revenue streams and to enhance fan engagement on social media.
The producer of “Monkey King: Hero is Back”, an animated film, crowdfunded the movie through WeChat, a Chinese messaging app, promising to add the names of investors' children to the film credits if they gave over 100,000 yuan ($16,000) each; the film raised over 7m yuan this way.
The internet has also become an important distribution channel.
Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, China's biggest internet firms, are all investing in online video.
As in America, revenues from streaming services are expected to surpass takings at the box office in a few years.
Local filmgoers, for their part, are increasingly young and technology savvy: 63% of movie tickets are now bought online, compared to 13% in America.
Even if Hollywood does not find a pot of gold in China, it may be there that it learns what the future of the global film business holds.
1.secondary cities 二线城市；中等城市
例句:But China's secondary cities also have huge populations.
2.movie tickets 电影票
例句:People can't even afford to pony up for movie tickets.
3.box office 票房；售票处
例句:The film has taken £ 180 million at the box office.
4.took off 脱下；起飞
例句:He took off his sweater, rolled it into a pillow and lay down on the grass.