• Monday, February 18, 2019

Domestic sci-fi films dominate China’s Spring Festival holiday period

Discussion in 'China & Far East' started by TaiShang, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. TaiShang

    TaiShang ELITE MEMBER

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    Domestic sci-fi films dominate China’s Spring Festival holiday period

    By Wei Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/10

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    Promotional material for The Wandering Earth Photo: VCG

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    Promotional material for Crazy Alien Photo: VCG

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    Promotional material for Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year Photo: VCG

    After setting a new single day box-office record for the Chinese mainland with 1.44 billion yuan ($213 million) on Tuesday, the first day of the Chinese New Year, the seven-day Spring Festival holiday brought in an estimated total of 5.86 billion yuan, a 1.6 percent year-on-year increase from 2018's festival period.

    The biggest champions for the holiday were Chinese sci-fi films, whose positive performances are sure to influence future trends in the Chinese film industry.

    Sci-fi blockbusters

    Taking 1.9 billion yuan and 1.4 billion yuan respectively as of Sunday afternoon, sci-fi films The Wandering Earth and Crazy Alien have accounted for more than half of the total holiday revenue.

    The Wandering Earth, an adaptation of Hugo Award winning author Liu Cixin's short story of the same name, only had a screen share of 11.4 percent on its opening day of Tuesday, yet its daily box office climbed to second place by Wednesday and to first place on Thursday, where it has remained despite polarized audience reviews.

    The Chinese mainland's home-grown sci-fi blockbuster, The Wandering Earth also began a limited run in North America on Friday, even though director Frant Gwo told the Global Times that he considers the film "made for Chinese audiences" and not the international market. So far the film has a high grade of 8/10 on IMDb.

    "America producers, eager to get their $200 million movies into the lucrative Chinese market, are increasingly looking for Chinese production partners, shooting in Chinese locations, and adding China-friendly characters and plotlines to American movies, even including extra scenes just for the Chinese cuts of films. But simultaneously, China and other countries are moving toward the blockbuster model themselves, creating homegrown films that don't need to involve American partners at all," The Verge wrote in its review of the film on Saturday.

    While The Wandering Earth tackles Hollywood's familiar end-of-the-world genre head on, Crazy Alien stood out for its ability to mix Chinese-style comedy with Hollywood sci-fi tropes.

    The film startS with a leading Western power contacting an alien to establish diplomatic relations, when the alien ambassador is accidently dropped onto the Earth and is mistaken for a monkey by a local entertainer.

    The debut of two Chinese sci-fi films at the same time is not a coincidence. According to Gwo, a group of local directors, including himself and Crazy Alien director Ning Hao, studied in Hollywood years ago and were deeply impressed by the industrialization of film production there and aspired to adapt it to the Chinese market.

    Following The Wandering Earth and Crazy Alien, another sci-fi blockbuster Shanghai Fortress announced on Friday that it will hit mainland theaters this summer.

    Fiercer competition

    This year, a total of eight new films opened on Tuesday, a significant increase from six in 2018 and five in 2017.

    Writer turned director Han Han's car race comedy Pegasus grossed 1 billion yuan as of Sunday to take third place behind the two sci-fi blockbusters. According to a report from the Hollywood Reporter, CMC Pictures, which is distributing The Wandering Earth in the US, Canada and Australia will also distribute Pegasus in the US.

    Also in theaters for the Chinese New Year were renowned actor/director Stephen Chow's comedy The New King of Comedy, Jackie Chan-led fantasy-comedy The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, and famed cop and gangster film director Alan Mak's crime suspense film Integrity.

    While Chow and Chan's films have been box-office hits for years, neither of the new films have lived up to expectations.

    Two family friendly films also debuted during the holiday period: animated Bonnie Bears: Blast into the Past and the China-UK coproduced live action/animated Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year.

    Compared to live action films, animated films often have an easier time breaking through national boundaries to be enjoyed by a larger audience. For this reason, recent years have seen several imported animations bring in big name Chinese stars to dub Chinese versions, while last year's Bonnie Bears film, Bonnie Bears: The Big Shrink, based one of its new characters on US actress Beth Behrs, who also voiced the character for the English version.

    Looking to capitalize on the Year of the Pig, Chinese studio Alibaba Pictures Group joined forces with eOne, the company behind the Peppa Pig cartoon, to bring the character to Chinese theaters for the very first time.

    "The idea came two years ago... eOne has produced a film using live action scenes threading together Peppa Pig animated episodes, which we found to be very interesting," Zhang Wei, president of Alibaba Pictures Group, which is distributing the film in the mainland, told the Global Times.

    "By combining an international IP with Chinese traditional culture, we hope Chinese audiences can get to know the world better, while the world gets a better idea of China."

    Newspaper headline: Toward the future

    http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1138354.shtml
     
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  2. Jlaw

    Jlaw ELITE MEMBER

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    wandering Earth looks interesting
     
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  3. TaiShang

    TaiShang ELITE MEMBER

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    Indeed. I think the movie signifies a threshold moment for China's big-budget Sci-fi blockbusters.

    ***

    09-Feb-2019

    'The Wandering Earth': China's inspiring first step for sci-fi film, what else?

    By Ai Yan


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    “Goodbye, solar system!”

    Bidding farewell to our sun seems to be an inevitable choice in previous doomsday-related space-exploring films, and now the Chinese have offered their version with “The Wandering Earth.”

    Hailed as the first hard sci-fi film produced by China, “The Wandering Earth” has apparently come up as a winner of the most competitive box-office race during the country's Spring Festival, and garnered 1.45 billion yuan (210 million U.S. dollars) five days after hitting the theaters.

    It has also outshone other promising competitors such as “Crazy Alien” and “Pegasus,” and won acclaim from critics and the general public, both domestically and overseas. As latecomers in the sci-fi film genre, Chinese filmmakers are taking on a new perspective instead of following their Hollywood predecessors.

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    A poster for the film "The Wandering Earth." /VCG Photo

    An Oriental plan to save Earth

    “The Wandering Earth” was based on a namesake novel by Liu Cixin, China's first Hugo-Award winning writer, whom many say has elevated China's sci-fi literature to a new level.

    When Earth is in peril due to a dying sun, the Chinese plan is to lift the blue planet out of the solar system together with its inhabitants, a solution in line with the traditional Chinese virtue of attachment to the family and homeland.

    In the film, all human beings set up a “United Earth Government” and build 10,000 fusion-powered thrusters to push Earth out of its orbit and head toward a new solar system. All human beings have been transferred to underground cities as the surface of the Earth has turned into an uninhabitable frozen world.

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    A poster for the film "The Wandering Earth". /VCG Photo

    The film depicts a refreshingly epic scene of a centuries-long journey which might take hundreds of generations to complete. However, while embarking on the journey, new challenges almost immediately emerge – Earth is about to collide with Jupiter…

    China's foray in the sci-fi film genre appears to be quite satisfying. Many were overwhelmed by the grandiose imagination and the visual effects portrayed through cutting-edge CGI and 3D technologies.

    But it means more than that.

    What has been brought up most in the overseas comments and reviews are the penetrating Chinese culture and values, which are quite different from the familiar Hollywood styles.

    “The story is not your everyday Hollywood style: Superhero saves the day; everyone else is there to give a round of applause,” reads a comment on IMDb.com. “All characters in the movie are ordinary people and everyone gives their answer with shining humanity. Against all odds, no one gives in without a good fight.”

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    CGTN Photo

    “The Wandering Earth's heroes are just the kind of gung-ho go-getters who can go off plan and do what needs to be done when the chips are down,” Australian film critic Travis Johnson wrote in his review, “but they're explicitly doing it out of selfless service to the greater good, which is often a by-product rather than an aim of American heroes' actions.”

    Despite the fact that it was only released in a couple of areas outside China, the film has scored 8.0 on the film review platform.

    Domestically, applause mixed with critical voices

    Back home, the film has received a comparable score of 8.0 points on Douban.com, China's version of Rotten Tomatoes. Many were just thrilled to see a Chinese sci-fi film with a space-exploring mission and Hollywood-style visual effects.

    “I'm having goose bumps all over me seeing Beijing and Shanghai covered with thick ice in a doomsday film, and there is also the shocking Jupiter and Earth colliding scene,” reads a comment on Douban.com.

    The typical humorous elements, such as the repeated “safe driving reminder” of the so-called Beijing No. 3 Transport Administration Commission, have also drawn the Chinese audience closer.

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    A screenshot of the IMDb ranking of "The Wandering Earth". /Photo via IMDb.com

    However, there are critics.

    Most Douban.com users have noticed that the plot is far from perfect, adding that there are far too much “sensational moments” which appears to be stiff and awkward.

    “A good film should be reasonable as well as emotional, but the reasons should not be derailed by the emotional parts,” reads a comment on Douban.com. “I do hope that one day our audience would shed tears for the vastness of the universe, not the deliberately sensational parts.”

    Some complained about the depiction of the characters, saying that they are “functional roles” and appeared to be thin. Some of the lines also draws criticism for being verbose and slowing down the pace.

    On China's social media platform Sina Weibo, netizens even launched a hashtag “Rewriting lines for Han Duoduo,” the junior high student starring actress Zhao Jinmai.

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    A poster for the film "The Wandering Earth." /Photo via Douban.com

    Over-sentimentality, loose script structures and awkward lines have been frequent areas of complaint in Chinese domestic films. While giving their generous compliments and encouraging comments to the country's first step in the sci-fi genre, strict movie-goers are not hesitant at all to add that it is time for the scriptwriters to catch up with the growth of the industry.

    We've decided to choose hope!

    While hard sci-fi fans are debating the scientific possibilities depicted in the film, insiders have praised it.

    Raymond Zhou, independent critic, was quoted by New York Times as calling the film symbolizing “the coming-of-age of the industry.” A number of reviews say “The Wandering Earth” could herald a new dawn for Chinese sci-fi films.

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    Audience watch the film during a domestic premiere. /Photo via Douban.com

    The film's budget is reportedly to be around 50 million U.S. dollars, which is modest compared to that of a Hollywood blockbuster. But the figure is big enough for a Chinese film given the initially low expectations.

    “I really hope that this movie will not lose money at least,” Guo Fan, director of the film said during an interview. “As long as this one does not lose money, we can continue to make science-fiction films.”

    Ever since Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award in 2015, the Chinese passion for sci-fi depictions have been reignited. Liu's most renowned work, “The Three-Body Problem,” was reportedly adapted into a film back then but suspended due to technological issues.

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    A poster for the film "The Wandering Earth." /Photo via Douban.com

    Experts predicted then that it might still need decades to see a domestically produced sci-fi film as successful as the Hollywood blockbusters such as “Interstellar” and “The Marttian.” Now, with the first step being made, that time-frame might be shortened.

    In “The Wandering Earth,” even with a close-to-zero chance of successful escaping, human beings have chosen hope, since “Hope is precious like a diamond in our time.” It could be the footnote for Chinese sci-fi films as well.

    (Cover image and infographic designed by Du Chenxin.)

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d514f776b544e32457a6333566d54/index.html
     
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  4. qwerrty

    qwerrty SENIOR MEMBER

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    made over 300 mln dollars already in just 5 days. it might beat 850 mln wolf warrior 2 :D
     
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    LKJ86 SENIOR MEMBER

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  6. LKJ86

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    LKJ86 SENIOR MEMBER

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    First billion dollars non-english speaking film is coming from China at times when childish superhero movies like venom cant even reach such mark. Impressive from China. :yahoo:
     
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  9. TaiShang

    TaiShang ELITE MEMBER

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    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019 at 10:01 AM
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    name FULL MEMBER

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