Chinese audience anxious for Oscar films

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 11, 2020
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In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S., Best Picture Award winners for "Parasite" pose onstage during the 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 9, 2020 in Hollywood, California, the United States. [Photo/VCG]

As South Korean black comedy "Parasite" made history at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony by becoming the first non-English-language movie to win best picture and other three awards, Chinese audiences are still waiting for all those Oscar-winning films whose release has been affected by the new coronavirus outbreak.

Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite" turned out to be the biggest winner at the awards ceremony in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday night. Besides being named Best Picture, the genre-bending class thriller also won Best Director for Bong Joon-ho, Best Original Screenplay and the Best International Feature Film, formerly known as best foreign-language film. 

The commercially-viable and adroitly-written drama on the weighty subject of class warfare follows the members of a poor household scheming to become employees of a much wealthier family by posing as unrelated and highly-qualified individuals.

A documentary film related to China, "American Factory," won the award for best documentary feature. It is the first film from former U.S. first couple Barack and Michelle Obama's production company Higher Ground Productions in partnership with Netflix. 

Directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, the documentary is about Chinese company Fuyao's factory in the American state of Ohio bringing jobs to unemployed Americans and the ups and downs along the way, which triggered lots of discussion over the past year about different work ethics and the western labor union system.

Both films, though, have no Chinese release plans yet. But many others were scheduled. 

"Jojo Rabbit," a black comedy directed and written by Taika Waititi based on Christine Leunens' 2008 novel "Caging Skies," won the Best Adapted Screenplay award.

Disney and its newly-acquired Fox Searchlight Pictures was supposed to distribute "Jojo Rabbit" in China from Feb. 12, 2020 in theaters under the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas (NAAC), a group formed in 2016 and operated by the China Film Archive and a consortium of theater chains supporting art-house films. 

However, due to the current epidemic, the film’s showing has been postponed indefinitely. But a publicist from the Walt Disney Studios told that the film was planned for theater release, rather than the rumored alternative of going directly to an online platform in China.

The rumor started as the telecast of the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony was underway. iQiyi, China's online video streaming site backed by search engine giant Baidu, posted seven Oscar-themed posters of "Jojo Rabbit," "Marriage Story," "Parasite," "Little Women," "1917," "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and "Ford vs. Ferrari," while captioning them with words like "coming soon to iQiyi" on its official Sina Weibo microblog. 

Chinese movie fans went crazy, thinking these films will debut online. However, many studios rushed out quick denials.

"It's not true," a publicist from Columbia Pictures (under Sony Pictures Entertainment) told, "We are communicating with iQiyi, and 'Little Women' is still planned to hit Chinese theaters."

"Little Women," which won the best costume design award, once set for release on the Chinese mainland on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, has put off its release plan. 

Sony's other film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, won the best supporting actor award for Brad Pitt and best production design at the Oscars. It was supposed to be released in China on Oct. 25, 2019, but now seems impossible for it to move into Chinese theaters due to its controversial Bruce Lee depiction that angered Lee's daughter and many Chinese people. 

"Marriage Story," a critically acclaimed American comedy drama that portrays both sides of a messy divorce, won the best supporting actress award for Laura Dern, and was set to land in Chinese theaters on Feb. 28. It has postponed its release plan. So did Disney/Fox's other film "Ford vs. Ferrari," which won best film editing and sound editing. 

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