Director Feng Xiaogang set up the genre of "New Year Moive" in China.
The so-called "New Year movie" demonstrates the heated competition in China's film market. This phenomenon started in 1997 with director Feng Xiaogang's 'Dream Factory', a comedy made on a slim budget of 6 million yuan, or about 896,000 US dollars. It grossed a total of 36 million yuan or 5.37 million US dollars.
This year, there are about 30 films vying for the title of box-office champion in the 90-day-long New Year season, roughly from December to February.
Among these hopefuls are "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate", directed by Hongkong new wave director Tsui Hark, "The Last Supper" by Lu Chuan and "Dear enemy", directed and played by Xu Jinglei.
Film making has become a new hot area for investment. The number of investment companies in this area exceeded 1,000 in 2010, a sharp rise from the average figure of 400 or 500 in previous years.
Qin Hong is the board chairman of Xingmei Group, a company that invested previously in cinema-building:
"We plan to increase our investment in film-producing. It has been decided by the board that each year from now, no less than 300 million Yuan should be put into film-making."
Various investors including small loan companies, mutual fund operations and even private coal-mine owners are showing increasing interest in investing in the silver screen.
The attraction is the huge profits, according to Wang Zhongjun, general manager of Huayi Brothers, a Beijing-based film corporation.
"Take the 2008 movie "Assembly' for an example. We spent about 100 million Yuan in shooting. The box-office revenue eventually amounted to 670 million Yuan. This doesn't include other related incomes. So a commercially successful movie brings huge returns."
Qi Yongfeng, director of the Culture Industry Research Center under China's Communication University, gives other reasons why the film sector is viewed nowadays as a source for investment:
"Chinese authorities have tightened monetary policy for a while: the interest rates are low, stock and property markets are both in the shallows. So investors lack sufficient channels for their cash. Filmmaking is an attractive alternative with short operating cycle and high returns."
China now boasts the world's third largest film industry after the United States and India. The China Film Producers Association has announced that the country is on target to become the world's second-largest film market, trailing only the U.S., within the next five years, both for domestic and international filmmakers.