Disney and its new partner, Beijing-based DMG Entertainment, didn't offer many details about their "Iron Man 3" project, although the companies say the movie will incorporate Chinese elements and be partly funded by DMG.
The DreamWorks' deal, announced in February, is for a joint venture studio based in Shanghai that is 45 percent owned by DreamWorks and 55 percent owned by its Chinese partners, capitalized at $330 million.
Some analysts questioned whether it was worth it for DreamWorks to give up a 55 percent stake in the venture.
"It is not clear how well DreamWorks will do when it has to relinquish creative controls," said Janney analyst Tony Wible. "This just adds to some of the uncertainty with the deal. However, there is a good long-term potential, so the risk goes with the return."
China isn't just waiting for Hollywood to come running.
Last month, a key official in China's movie infrastructure, Yang Buting, appealed to Hollywood's finance community to enter new joint ventures in the country.
He once led the nation's primary distributor of foreign films, China Film Group, and now chairs a co-financing arm of the government, China Mainstream Media National Film Capital Hollywood Group Inc., which set up an office in Beverly Hills, Calif., this year.
"I have a vision of an ideal version of film cooperation between China and the United States: Chinese or American stories, joint investment, co-production, joint cast and credits, distributed globally," he said at a conference in Los Angeles. The formula will "surely be a win-win miracle for both China and the U.S."
So far, co-productions have had mixed success. The 2007 Ang Lee-directed film, "Lust Caution," which paired Hai Sheng Film Production Co. and Universal Pictures' Focus Features group, won critical acclaim but failed to make its money back.
On the other hand, the retelling of the 1984 classic "The Karate Kid" by Sony Pictures and China Film Group in 2010 reinvigorated a franchise. Much of its success can be credited to the charming chemistry between its new star, Will Smith's son Jaden, and martial arts legend Jackie Chan, a well-established Hong Kong-born hit with Chinese audiences. The movie was a global hit. It cast China and kung fu in a positive light and grossed $343 million worldwide.
Still, it is unclear whether new rules favor Chinese co-productions, or movies brought in under the new quota.
Based on a deal announced by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, China will let in 14 more foreign movies a year as long as they are in 3-D or the Imax format. That lifts the number of foreign films allowed under the quota system each year to 34.
These foreign films will also share 25 percent of the box office receipts, up from 13.5 percent to 17.5 percent now. The rest goes to theater owners and the government.
While the new, higher cut is less than the 43 percent share China offers domestic movie studios, it still could be a better deal for Hollywood than being the junior member of a joint venture.
Meanwhile China's home movie market is dominated by pirated films. The fledgling market for legitimate online movie rentals is tiny.
One of the clearest beneficiaries of the rule change is Imax Corp., the big-screen movie company that licenses its technology for a share of ticket sales. Imax is hugely popular with Chinese movie fans. It receives about half of the studios' share of the box office for movies that end up on its screens in China. As more Imax-format movies are let in, more films will contribute to its Chinese revenue going forward.
Still, CEO Rich Gelfond treads carefully.
"I'd say there's always country risk wherever you do business in the world," he says. "But by creating a win-win scenario where it's good for the Chinese partners, it's good for the Chinese consumer, and it works for Imax, we think we can minimize that risk."