Chinese officials clamp down on stars' salaries

Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing’s recent alleged tax evasion has resulted in authorities ensuring that the A-list actresses’ fees do not exceed 40 per cent of a production's total cost.
Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing’s recent alleged tax evasion has resulted in authorities ensuring that the A-list actresses’ fees do not exceed 40 per cent of a production's total cost. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI • If movie-makers want to pay, say, more than 80 million yuan (S$16.7 million), the reported industry rate for an A-list actress in China, they can do so, but will have to ensure that the fee does not exceed 40 per cent of a production's total cost.

If there are several A-listers, the producers will have to manage their egos to rein in cost, as their fees are limited to 70 per cent of the total payout to all cast members.

On Wednesday, the Chinese authorities, including the tax bureau, issued a joint notice detailing these regulations in the wake of a recent hoo-ha over alleged tax evasion by superstar Fan Bingbing.

These rules will also apply to online projects, in a move by the authorities to restore some sanity to the entertainment industry as studios dangle big bucks to vie for big names in a bid to stand out in a crowded field.

"Strict monitoring of payments and contracts for film, television and online productions is a must.

"We must also step up our forces in fighting tax evasion and unhealthy competition," Xinhua news agency cited the official notice as stating.

Earlier this month, tax officials launched an industry-wide probe after TV host Cui Yongyuan posted photos of two contracts allegedly inked by Fan.

The contract with a lower monetary value was supposedly intended to be used for tax computation.

Fan denied the claims and Cui later apologised to her.

Fan is in a recently published list of actresses in the 80-million-yuan-and-above pay bracket, joining others like Yang Mi, Zhang Ziyi, Zhou Dongyu and Sun Li.

But, just like in Hollywood, the men pocket more, with the likes of Chen Kun, Hu Ge and Yang Yang commanding 100 million yuan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese officials clamp down on stars' salaries '. Print Edition | Subscribe