China’s film industry

China’s film industry

Disney’s Mulan is besieged by critics. The worst may still lie ahead
Hit with bad reviews and accusations of complicity in China’s mistreatment of ethnic minorities, Mulan is getting no respite ahead of its opening in Chinese theaters. Disney’s live-action remake has racked up dismal advance ticket sales for its opening day in China on Friday, according to China’s largest film ticketing app Maoyan. As of Wednesday morning, the sales amounted to $307,000 after three days’ presale, a fraction of those of recent hit movies in the country. Love You Forever, a time-traveling romance, took in $20 million in advance tickets before it opened in August. Mulan has faced a fresh storm of criticism since its September 4 release in the US after it was found to be partly f
Avengers can’t save China’s box office from Beijing’s tightening grip
Tougher regulations and a lackluster performance by imported films saw China’s box office revenues grow last year at the slowest rate in over a decade, according to official data. The world’s fastest-growing film market generated box office revenues of $9.2 billion in 2019, up 5.4% from a year earlier. But it was the second consecutive year that China’s box office growth slowed. Revenue from Chinese films expanded by 8.7% in 2019. Revenue from overseas produced films, however, rose only by 0.1%.  Of the overseas produced films, only Avengers: Endgame and Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw appeared on China’s top 10 list for 2019. Hollywood blockbusters now contribute only around a th
The movie from 1998 that’s going gangbusters in China
China’s consumer class is always looking for the latest, most cutting-edge smartphone app or the most talked-about viral video. Who would have predicted, then, that a 21-year-old movie would take Chinese cinema by storm over the past few weeks? What’s incredible is that The Legend of 1900 was hardly a classic in the first place.  Revolving around a piano prodigy, played by Tim Roth, who had spent his entire life on board an ocean liner, the movie received mixed reviews on its release in 1998, with disapproving critics lambasting it as “fragile” (Variety), “overwrought” (San Francisco Chronicle), schmaltz that “drowns in its own treacle” (Salon.com). The first English-language feature by Ital
A few pixels on a Chinese map sank ‘Abominable’ in Vietnam
An animated family film about a fluffy white yeti has been caught up in an international territorial dispute. The movie, Abominable, has been reportedly pulled from cinemas in Vietnam because of a brief scene featuring a map showing China’s disputed claims in the vast and resource-rich South China Sea.  The map offended the Vietnamese government for including the so-called “nine-dash line,” which is used by Beijing to illustrate its claims in the contested waters, Reuters reported on Monday.  Abominable, a co-production between DreamWorks Animation and Shanghai-based Pearl Studio, depicts how a Chinese girl and her friends help a yeti return to its home on Mount Everest.  The controversial
Chinese filmmaker defies state boycott of Taiwan’s Oscars
A mainland Chinese director has vowed to ignore a national boycott and keep her documentary in the running for Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards, the Oscars of the Chinese-speaking world.  The film, whose title loosely translates as Young People Question Taoism, was directed by filmmaker Zhu Yu. It is the only mainland Chinese production still registered for the festival, which is held every year in self-ruled Taiwan.  The documentary follows four young Taoist priests on a 370-mile pilgrimage through China as they seek the true meaning of their faith. They stop along the way to pray for the souls of dead animals. The Chinese government this month banned mainland Chinese films and stars from parti
Get to know rising Chinese leading man Li Xian
China’s top-rated TV series of the summer has made a leading man out of chiseled actor Li Xian. The 27-year-old starred as professional video gamer Han Shangyan in the 41-part smash hit romantic drama Go Go Squid! opposite established actress Yang Zi. The title of the show refers to the online handle of Yang’s character, a social media influencer. Li has been the talk of the town this summer. Since airing in July, the series has been streamed more than 9.6 billion times, making it China’s most-watched TV program last month. For proof of his newfound stardom, look no further than the party held at The Peninsula Beijing hotel by Chinese streaming giant iQiyi to get a sense of Li’s popularity.
A-list Chinese actresses plead for more roles for older women
A group of prominent Chinese actresses have made a dramatic plea at an award ceremony on Sunday to filmmakers: cast more women in their 30s and beyond. “Dear directors, we are older but we are wiser,” the 41-year-old actress Hai Qing said on stage as two other renowned film stars stood next to her. “But to be honest,” she said, “the market, subject matter and other factors have barred us from working on quality films.” Hai’s plea to an industry that critics say prizes the appeal of youth over acting chops has resonated with many people on the Chinese internet.         View this post on Instagram                   #haiqing A post shared by 海清 (@haiqingofficial) on Apr 29, 20
The Bond girl that China barely knows
Decades before superstars such as Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi made their first forays into Hollywood, Chinese actress Tsai Chin played a Bond girl in the 007 spy film You Only Live Twice (1967). To shoot the scenes where her Chinese double agent character traps the debonair British spy in an assassination attempt, Tsai, also known as Irene Chow, was in bed with Sean Connery for three days. Before that, Tsai had been the first Chinese star to perform in London’s West End, earning rave reviews in the star role of Suzie in The World of Suzie Wong in the late 1950s. Yet Tsai is far from being a household name in China, where audiences pay scant attention to her roles in American film and television p
Disney got Mulan’s house wrong, say Chinese fans
Chinese fans are questioning the authenticity of Disney’s depiction of the iconic heroine Mulan, after viewing a new trailer for the highly anticipated live-action film. In the trailer, the titular character is seen riding her horse across emerald-green rice paddies and arriving at home – a distinctive donut-shaped structure with mud walls, tiled roofs and a bustling courtyard shared with neighbors. This scene has Chinese fans scratching their heads. The real Mulan, if she lived at all, could not have lived in such a house. “This is American-style ancient China,” said one internet user on the Twitter-like Weibo.  The unique, instantly identifiable home seen in the trailer is called a tulou,
Chinese filmgoers unhappy with Disney’s Ariel casting
Chinese fans may love NBA players and African-American entertainers, but they’re upset with Disney’s decision to cast Halle Bailey to play Ariel in the live-action movie adaption of The Little Mermaid. Disney announced the casting of 19-year-old Bailey, who is black, this week. While the casting was largely praised on Western social media, it triggered a wave of disappointment and anger on the Chinese internet.  “I don’t discriminate against black people, but the Little Mermaid is just not black in my memory,” said one of the most liked comments on the Twitter-like Weibo. “Is this mermaid from the Somali Sea?” another Weibo user said. “Don’t ruin my childhood, you big-head fish!” Internet u