Executives: China's film industry will revive

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, June 19, 2019
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Film executives pose for a group photo at the Chinese Film Industry Summit, a major meeting held during the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival in Shanghai, on June 16, 2019. [Photo courtesy of SIFF]

Top Chinese film executives convened at a major summit held on Sunday during the ongoing Shanghai International Film Festival to restore faith in the Chinese film industry.

"The average daily box office intake last year was 168 million yuan ($24.25 million). This year, there were nearly 40 days with a box office gross of 30 to 40 million ($4.33 million to $5.77 million) a day," lamented Wang Changtian, president of Beijing Enlight Media, speaking at the festival's Chinese Film Industry Summit.

Nevertheless, 2018 was a great year for Chinese film. The total gross for all films screened in the country reached 60.9 billion yuan ($8.79 billion), a historic high, and the total number of cinema screens across China passed 60,000, the most in the world, according to statistics from the State Film Administration.

Wang and his fellow film executives emphasized that even though the growth of Chinese film industry is slowing down, the industry is actually moving toward a higher level and Chinese audiences are embracing more film genres, from realistic dramas to science fiction.

Yu Dong, founder of Bona Film Group, pointed out that in 2018, breakthroughs in Chinese film genres, aesthetics and social influence not only brought box office success, but also heightened social impact, as in the case of the well-known medical drama "Dying to Survive."

Jiang Ping, general manager of China Film Co. stressed the importance of quality, adding that without good films in the pipeline, exceeding the United States' market scale will not be possible.

The current market situation, said Wang, shows him the necessity of restoring the confidence of film practitioners, reinvigorating their morale and reshaping their images for the world. "The audience needs to recognize the progress of the Chinese film industry in recent years," he said.

"We can only do films hand in hand with each other to shoulder risks together," Yu said, appealing to film companies to overcome difficulties by uniting and investing in film projects together.

For Yu and fellow film executives, the turning point for China's film industry may come in next half of 2019. "We have a large number of films that will be put into the market in August and September," Yu said.

Film studios also showcased upcoming films at the Shanghai International Film Festival, including "The Climbers" with the all-star cast of Wu Jing, Zhang Ziyi and Zhang Yi, as well as China's second sci-fi blockbuster "Shanghai Fortress," as well as the most-anticipated "The Rescue" by director Dante Lam ("Operation Red Sea"), China's first disaster blockbuster "Sky Fire" and a new film by Zhang Yimou.

"We should lay the foundation, and lay it well. When the market picks up again, everyone will have a chance," said Fan Luyuan, president of Alibaba Pictures. 

Yu noted that the Chinese film market is getting close to the $10 billion scale, while nearly 50% of the films contributing to box office revenue are Hollywood movies. "Hollywood will strengthen the long-term competition strategy of the Chinese market. This is both an opportunity and a challenge for Chinese film studios, because the Chinese film market has already been included in the global competition."

"Film is a global industry. If China wants to develop from a big filmmaking country to a strong filmmaking power, we should look at the competition among countries," Ren Zhonglun, president of Shanghai Film Group, echoed.

When talking about the direction of the next Chinese films, Fan noted, "China must do films that have common people, big feelings, and positive energy in this new era. These can touch a vast number of moviegoers and immerse them in the film world."

"The longing of 1.4 billion movie viewers for a better life and their pursuit of excellent films are the most powerful driving force for the creative works of the entire film industry," said CEO of Tencent Pictures Cheng Wu, adding that confidence is crucial to the development of the industry.

"We need a victory," concluded Zeng Maojun, president of Wanda Film Holding Co.

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