But this can only happen if Trump makes China an offer it can’t refuse. He should seek to raise the cap on US films in China to one hundred. If twenty films generated around $2 billion in revenue, then one hundred might create $10 billion, an increase of 400 percent. The Chinese would likely balk at such an agreement, but they should be reminded that they’ve had almost unfettered access to America’s film business.
For example Dalian Wanda, a Chinese firm, owns AMC Theatres, the largest cinema operator in the U.S. If the Chinese don’t go along with Trump’s offer, the US could threaten to slow or stop future Chinese business dealings in the American film business.
Trump might be able to pressure Chinese officials, because American studios lose significant amounts of revenue because of piracy and bootlegging in China. By agreeing to raise the cap, China would enable Hollywood studios to recover some of their losses. Moreover, China would give Trump a symbolic win and ingratiate him to make concessions in other areas.
Because of Hollywood’s high visibility, such a deal with benefit President Trump’s America First economic agenda by helping to narrow the trade deficit. He would also appear magnanimous, and he could cite these concrete actions he has taken to help a vibrant industry when he is attacked by naysayers in Hollywood.
Instead, Trump has made a sport of criticizing the likes of Meryl Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Alec Baldwin, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even though his chiding of these individuals plays well among his base, he shouldn’t be so swift in dismissing Hollywood and its leading lights. Because in order for Trump to deliver on his “America First” economic agenda for his supporters, he needs the help of the very people and industry that he continues to rebuff.
Commentary by Kabir Sehgal, a Multi-Grammy Award winning record producer and bestselling author. He is a former vice president at JPMorgan Chase. Follow him on Twitter @HiKabir.
For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCOpinion on Twitter.