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Thread: Chollywood rising

  1. #361
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    Chollywood rising once more

    Aug 11, 2020 4:56pm PT
    China to Ease Limits on Movie Ticket Sales, Screening Length Starting This Weekend
    By Rebecca Davis


    Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros.

    Cinemas in some parts of China have been told that they may now sell up to 50% of their available tickets for each screening and play films over two hours in length without restrictions starting from Aug. 14, local reports and leaked directives show.

    Concessions may also now be sold — not to snack on in theaters, but, amusingly, as take-away.

    The easing of theater restrictions is a big positive sign for the China box office prospects of Disney’s “Mulan,” which confirmed on Monday it would hit Chinese theaters “soon,” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which is set to debut in the country on Sept. 4.

    COVID-19 has dealt a blow to the global box office dreams of both films, with Disney choosing to forgo theatrical in most markets and release its live-action remake on its own streaming platform.

    Chinese cinemas reopened for the first time in six months on July 20. Initial national guidelines required them to cap ticket sales at just 30% of their max capacity to allow for more extensive social distancing. They also banned the sale and consumption of concessions, and requested that screenings not go over two hours. Local authorities in some regions began asking cinemas to program a short intermission into longer films, but not others.

    Now, the screening length issue appears to cleared up in time for the weekend debut of two hotly anticipated longer titles: a 3D, 4K restoration of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and the censored Chinese war epic “The Eight Hundred,” which both open Friday. “Bad Boys for Life” starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, which runs at 123 minutes, is also set to premiere alongside them.

    Giving cinemas the ability to sell up to half the available seats for each showing will be a welcome boon for exhibitors. Business has been “better than expected,” analysts say, but still slow as audiences appear to await more enticing offerings.

    The most successful cinema in the country, a five-hall, 565-seat venue on Hainan island, sold 1,379 tickets worth $7,000 on Tuesday.

    The images below show the seating availability for two different Imax theaters in Beijing last Saturday night for the opening weekend of “1917.” The red icons indicate seats already taken, while the grey, locked seats are those left empty for social distancing purposes. For a major title on the most popular weekend evening, the 30% capacity rule left most good seats occupied, leaving only options at the very front or side.


    Courtesy of Tao Piaopiao


    Recently, a few other foreign titles have announced an upcoming theatrical outing in China.
    Courtesy of Tao Piaopiao

    They include the 2017 U.S. historical drama “The Current War,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla, which will arrive in China on Aug. 28. Co-produced by Harvey Weinstein and originally set for distribution by The Weinstein Company, the film’s release got caught up in Weinstein’s sexual abuse scandal and did not debut until last fall. It’s made $12 million worldwide so far, with $6 million of that from North America.

    Two Japanese titles are also preparing to hit cinemas. They are the 1999 Cannes competition title “Kikujiro” — written, directed and starring Takeshi Kitano — which has yet to set a date, and “Masquerade Hotel,” a 2019 crime film directed by Masayuki Suzuki that will premiere in China on Sept. 4.
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  2. #362
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    15 cents

    AMC Theatres to Reopen Next Week at 15 Cents Per Movie
    AMC Theatres announced 100 theaters will reopen on Aug. 20 with the cost of 15 cents per ticket.
    By David Crow
    |
    August 13, 2020


    AMC Theatres
    Photo: Noam Galai / Getty Images

    “Movies in 2020 at 1920 Prices.” That is the amusing slogan AMC Theatres trumpeted Thursday in relation to their confirmation of 100 movie theaters definitely reopening across North America. With this reopening signaling one-sixth of their U.S. locations being ready for business in a week’s time, AMC will charge only 15 cents per ticket on the first day of the rollout.

    The pricing is an amusing gimmick that harkens back to when going to the movies was not only safe but also the primary form of populist entertainment in the U.S. Indeed, if one was to argue, like director Christopher Nolan has, that cinema is the most democratic form of art, it’s with those kind of prices that it became possible. Of course by Aug. 20 none of the intended studio wide releases on which theaters are resting hope will be out to reawakening audiences’ appetites.

    Indeed, The New Mutants, the first major studio wide release since March, does not open until Aug. 28. And Tenet, the real tentpole that theaters are banking on to be truly must-see, does not open in “select U.S. cities” until Sept. 3. Even Solstice Pictures’ Unhinged, which stars Russell Crowe as a maniac driver, doesn’t bow until Aug. 21.

    But the novel approach of returning to ‘20s era prices in a different decade is a gambit designed to get those who really miss moviegoing to try AMC locations out on the first day, likely by watching old favorites such as Nolan’s Inception, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Of course it’s trying to get audiences to try it during the heat of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Despite infection rates going down in May, infection rates have increased again this summer, particularly in states like Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and California. For that reason, movie theaters remain mandatorily closed in more than 10 states, and in major moviegoing markets like New York City.

    Still, AMC Theatres is pledging that the reopening will come with new safety features which include reduced capacity seating to enforce social distancing, new ventilation systems in the theaters, and an emphasis on no-contact ticket buying and concessions. Perhaps in AMC’s biggest acceptance of the current health crisis though is the theater chain agreeing to require moviegoers to wear masks… but that only came after backlash to the initial announcement that mask-wearing would merely be a guideline and AMC did not want to wade into the “politics” of hard science.

    Still, on Aug. 20 you can expect to get some version of the 1920 experience. Just hope it isn’t the 1919 one when the Spanish Flu still was hanging on.
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  3. #363
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    3D PRC re-release

    China Box Office: 3D 'Harry Potter' Rerelease Wins the Weekend
    11:33 PM PDT 8/16/2020 by Abid Rahman


    Warner Bros./Photofest
    'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'

    'Bad Boys For Life' bombs as previews for local war epic 'The Eight Hundred' point to a monster opening next weekend.
    Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone cast its spell over the box office in China this weekend, as Hollywood rereleases continue to entice people back to recently reopened cinemas.

    The 3D, 4K rerelease of the first film in Warner Bros' multi-billion dollar franchise was able to magic up a stellar $13.4 million this weekend, according to local box office consultancy Artisan Gateway. The strong showing from The Sorcerer's Stone pushed the total box office to $21.9 million, the best single weekend performance since China's cinemas reopened.

    Theaters in China are now into their fourth week of reopening after a COVID-19 enforced lockdown put in place back in January. Despite the restart, the country's exhibitors are still operating with limits on the number of screens and strict social distancing measures on top of having a public still wary about returning to the movies. The stronger week-to-week performance is in stark contrast to the year-on-year decline of 92.8 percent.

    Puffed up partly by higher-priced IMAX admissions, on Saturday The Sorcerer's Stone scored the biggest single-day take since the restart and its total China gross, including all previous releases, now stands at $21.4 million according to Artisan Gateway. The China rerelease of the 2001 film, based on the first book of J.K. Rowling's phenomenally successful book series, is edging the movie closer to a $1 billion worldwide cume.

    In second place was Sony's delayed release of Bad Boys For Life which made a modest $3.1 million. The post-COVID-19 theatrical landscape has notably lacked new Hollywood releases but the third film in the Bad Boys franchise didn't bring the crowds out, with the film hampered by its lukewarm critical reception including a 5.7/10 rating on the popular media review platform Douban.

    Coming in third was local war epic The Eight Hundred which made an impressive $2 million in previews. Directed by Guan Hu and produced by Huayi Bros., The Eight Hundred is an $80 million tentpole based on a pivotal battle in 1937 during the Sino-Japanese war: the historic siege and defense of the Si Hang Warehouse in Shanghai where 400 fighters, an unlikely mix of soldiers, deserters and civilians became known as the “Eight Hundred Heroes," after holding out against waves of Japanese forces for four days and four nights.

    The hotly anticipated war film was originally supposed to be released last summer but had its world premiere dramatically pulled from the Shanghai Film Festival and then its nationwide release canceled at the 11th hour by China's censors, although no official reason has ever been given.

    With stellar reviews, an 8.1 rating on Douban and buoyed by nationalistic fervor, The Eight Hundred should breakout big next weekend when it goes on general release.

    The rerelease of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar continued to rack up solid numbers, making another $1.3 million this weekend. Including its original run, the 2014 sci-fi epic, which stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, has now made $123.9 million in China.

    Interstellar's strong performance and Nolan's name recognition in China bodes well for the Middle Kingdom release of his high concept sci-fi movie Tenet, which has cleared the country's censors and is set to be released on Sept. 4. To drum up a little more Nolan-mania in China, Warner Bros. is also rereleasing Inception in the country on Aug. 28.

    Rounding out the top five this weekend was the rerelease of Sam Quah's 2019 crime drama Sheep Without a Shepherd which made $1.1 million and now has a cume of $187.7 million.


    ABID RAHMAN
    abid.rahman@thr.com
    gentlemanabroad

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  4. #364
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    National Day Oct 1

    Aug 17, 2020 12:00pm PT
    Peter Chan’s Volleyball Drama ‘Leap’ to Hit China Over National Day

    By Rebecca Davis


    "Leap"

    Peter Chan’s hotly anticipated biographical sports drama “Leap” is set to hit China on Sept. 30, becoming the first of the Chinese New Year blockbusters canceled due to COVID-19 to set a theatrical outing.

    Local animation “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification,” which was also originally scheduled to premiere over the lunar new year, will premiere the day after. They will both hit theaters over the China’s patriotic National Day holiday that begins Oct. 1, typically one of the busiest movie-going weeks of the year.

    They will compete against the patriotic anthology film “My People, My Homeland,” a sequel to last National Day’s “My People, My Country,” and Chinese comedy “Coffee or Tea?,” as well as a local animated take on the classic “Mulan” legend.

    The fact that major new local blockbusters are now willing to set release dates is a signal of renewed confidence in China’s box office, as cinemas slowly get back on their feet after six months of closures. Theaters are still currently only allowed to sell up to 50% of their available tickets to enable social distancing.

    Seven major films were expected to release Jan. 24 over the lunar new year holiday, but all were pulled just before their premieres as COVID-19 swept the country and made mass cinema-going look less and less feasible. Theaters were officially ordered shut by authorities just afterwards.

    Of those titles, “Leap” is the first to set a theatrical release date. The others include helmer Dante Lam’s “The Rescue,” Wanda’s “Detective Chinatown 3,” Stanley Tong’s Jackie Chan-starring “Vanguard” and two animations, “Jiang Ziya” and “Boonie Bears: The Wild Life.”

    Xu Zheng’s “Lost in Russia,” which was thematically tied to the lunar new year holiday, stoked controversy by deciding to skip theatrical altogether and release for free via ByteDance’s video platforms, including Douyin (China’s version of TikTok), Toutiao and Watermelon video.

    “Leap” tells the story of the Chinese women’s national volleyball team and their tribulations over the course of decades. It features Huang Bo (“The Island,” “Crazy Alien”) and Gong Li, who stars as the legendary coach Lang Ping.
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  5. #365
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    China is back

    When covid first struck, I thought it would hobble the rise of China's film industry. Now it looks like it was just what was needed to eclipse Hollywood.

    Aug 27, 2020 7:05pm PT
    China Is World’s First Market to Achieve Full Box Office Recovery, Says Analytics Firm
    By Rebecca Davis


    The Eight Hundred
    Courtesy of Huayi Bros

    China this week became the first global market to make a “full box office recovery” according to targets developed by the U.K.-based film industry analytics firm Gower Street, the company said Thursday.

    The firm created five targets to track and compare the paths of different territories’ exhibition sectors back to recovery. The indicators move from stage one — a point when a significant majority (80%) of cinemas are ready to resume operations — to stage five, in which business over the course of a week is equivalent to that of the top quartile of weekly earnings from the past two years.

    After reaching this stage five goal, a particular market “should react as normal, with an ebb and flow dependent on the release calendar,” Gower Street explained.

    To reach that target, post-COVID China needed to generate a weekly box office of $184 million (RMB1.27 billion). According to data from Comscore Movies, China hit this target just five days into the week starting Friday, Aug. 21, having taken in $189 million (RMB1.31 billion) by the end of the day Tuesday.

    China’s national box office for the full week was $252 million (RMB1.74 billion), more than 18% greater than that of the equivalent week in 2019, which saw earnings of around $209 million (RMB1.44 billion).

    More than 90% of Chinese cinemas by market share are now open, although they continue to operate with capacity restrictions allowing them to sell only half their available tickets.

    Despite these limitations, China’s performance stands out worldwide at a time when nearly 65% of global cinemas by market share are now back in business in the wake of COVID-19 closures, up from 55% a week ago, Gower Street said.

    The global box office so far in 2020 is just $6.88 billion, a fraction of the $27.2 billion three year average year to date score. Nevertheless, sales are increasing, with the $200 million collected globally this week marking a rise of 54% from the one previous. China, said Gower Street, was “undoubtedly the driver” of this growth.

    This week’s success was due to massive sales for local war film “The Eight Hundred,” as well as Tuesday’s Qixi Festival, a type of Chinese Valentine’s day, which saw the release of popular local time-travel rom-com “Love You Forever,” which grossed more than $39 million on its opening day.

    Giving the box office a further mid-week boost, local romantic drama “Wild Grass” and Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-winning “Little Women” also premiered Tuesday, debuting to the tune of $5.5 million and $1.5 million on day one, respectively, according to data from Maoyan.

    This week’s box office tally accounts for nearly a third of all ticket sales in China to date this year, with “The Eight Hundred” alone accounting of 27% of the national 2020 box office as of Wednesday. The film has grossed $210 million (RMB1.45 billion) and Maoyan now projects a total of $459 million (RMB3.16 billion).

    ADVERTISEMENTSCROLL TO CONTINUE READING
    The Chinese market’s revival comes just in time for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which is set to further galvanize recovery once it premieres in the country on Sept. 4. A re-release of his “Inception” will compete with “The Eight Hundred” once it hits cinemas on Friday.

    Disney’s “Mulan” has yet to receive an official release date in the territory, but is expected to hit theaters in the near future.

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  6. #366
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    75% capacity

    The U.S. is a long way from that now...

    Sep 15, 2020 4:16pm PT
    China’s Cinemas to Soon Operate at 75% Capacity, as Pandemic Restrictions Ease


    By Rebecca Davis


    "Leap"
    China announced on Tuesday that it will soon relax pandemic-related restrictions currently placed on cinemas and allow venues to sell up to 75% of their available tickets.

    Chinese cinemas are currently limited to just half capacity, but can shift over to selling 75% of their available tickets from Sept. 25, the China Film Distribution & Projection Association said in new guidelines released on their official social media accounts.

    The move is a boon to struggling exhibitors, who have suffered through six months of shutdowns this year and only re-opened their doors in late July. It also comes after the release of Hollywood tentpoles “Tenet” and “Mulan,” but just as major Chinese blockbusters are set to bow over the upcoming National Day holiday.

    Chinese authorities are seeking to ramp up cinema-going ahead of that period, when a slew of patriotic films will hit theaters, intended to boost morale and feelings of national pride.

    Notably, Peter Chan’s “Leap,” a volleyball drama starring Gong Li that was initially supposed to launch over Chinese New Year, has shifted its originally scheduled release five days earlier to stand out from the crowd, and is now set to debut on Sept. 25 — the same day the new guidelines will come into effect.

    Eight other films will fight for attention in what is turning out to be an unexpectedly competitive battle. Most notably, they include two other Chinese New Year blockbusters, the hotly anticipated animation “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification” and Jackie Chan-starrer “Vanguard,” as well as the patriotic omnibus film “My People, My Homeland” and, incongruously, the 1999 Japanese road movie “Kikujiro,” starring, written and directed by Takeshi Kitano.

    The new pandemic rules require continued vigilance from cinemas on coronavirus prevention, stating that key public areas such as lobbies, corridors and screening halls should be disinfected with spray no less than twice a day, while places like toilets, vending machines and seats in public areas should be wiped down at least five times a day.

    Tickets will remain sold online-only, via reservations attached to people’s real names, and retrieved without human contact via vending machines.
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  7. #367
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    China surpassed all of North America as the world's largest box office earner.

    Asian Films Dominate Global Box Office While US Films Struggle
    BY JON JACKSON ON 10/19/20 AT 12:28 PM EDT

    The Japanese anime adventure Demon Slaver The Movie: Mugen Train was named the best performing film in the world this past weekend, while China surpassed all of North America as the world's largest box office earner.

    The coronavirus pandemic continues to drastically restrict any movies that dare opening in front of live audiences in theaters, with Liam Neeson's Honest Thief bringing in a very modest $3.7 million over a three-day opening in the US, with a cumulative total of around $4.2 million in North American when including its haul in Canada. Taking the second spot was critically-maligned The War with Grandpa, followed by Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which increased its domestic total to $50.6 million in eight weekends of release—the high-water mark for any film released in the US after the pandemic hit.


    Demon Slayer, from hit Japanese show to the world's box office film champ.
    ANIPLEX

    These totals are not unexpected given many theaters remain shuttered throughout the country, including all indoor cinemas in New York City.

    Meanwhile, Japan's Demon Slayer opened with an a robust $44 million over three days, breaking box office records there to become the biggest launch in Japanese history. These numbers are even more impressive when compared to last year's Japanese opening of Frozen 2, which brought in $30 million over a three-day period and finished its theatrical run there with $121 million. Demon Slayer managed to bring in its massive total even with spaced seating that limits admissions to about half of normal capacity in Japan.

    Demon Slayer no doubt benefitted from its popular source material—a Gotoge Koyoharu comic that since its first appearance in 2016 has gone on to print nearly 100 million copies circulating in paperback editions and digital formats. Before the new feature film, the comic spawned a popular TV anime series in 2019 that's been distributed on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. North American audiences will have their first chance to catch the feature-length film in early 2021.

    Meanwhile, China continued its domination of the global box office for the year as it closed in on $2 billion on Sunday after adding $46.4 million over the weekend. This came despited a 32% decline from last weekend's box office totals in China and no major new release. That nearly $2 billion total was enough for China to take the 2020 global crown over North America's $1.94 billion, according to consultancy Artisan Gateway. However, these totals conflict slightly from the numbers found by Comscore, another industry-reporting agency, which has North America at $2.085 billion and nearly $100 million above China. Though, even by those statistics, China should soon surpass North America. It could happen as soon as this weekend, when the highly-anticipated Korean War drama Sacrifice (or Jin Gang Chuan, as its known locally) opens in China on October 23.

    Current box office champs in China include My People, My Homeland, which added $25.6 million for a $366 million total, and Jiang Ziya: Legend Of Deification, which sits at at $228 million in its run thus far. The country's World War II epic The Eight Hundred remains the most successful movie of the year globally with $460 million and growing. The second highest-grossing film globally is Bad Boys for Life at $426.5 million, which it accomplished as one of the last North American major releases before the coronavirus shutdown.

    Back in the US, the box office picture continues to look bleak with many of the season's major blockbusters being pushed forward to 2021 or getting VOD/streaming channel releases. Still, Disney managed to find a bright spot by simply re-introducing older hits to theaters again. These catalogue releases, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus, took the fourth and fifth spots at the box office with
    I think this article got cut off...
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    Sacrifice

    Not to be confused with the 2010 Sacrifice.

    Oct 25, 2020 8:00pm PT
    China Box Office: ‘Sacrifice’ Sweeps to $53 Million Opening Weekend


    By Patrick Frater


    Courtesy of China Film Group
    Meeting only minimal resistance, Chinese-made war film “Sacrifice” invaded the box office and secured a quick victory against already battle-weary opponents.

    The film released on Friday and in three days earned $53.0 million according to data from consultancy firm Artisan Gateway. It occupied the majority of available theatrical territory and clocked up a per screen average of $422 on Saturday alone.

    The Artisan Gateway data points to an aggregate weekend gross of $76.9 million. The running total of $2.10 billion for the year to date is still 75% down on this time last year.

    Released to coincide with official celebrations that mark China’s role in the Korean War (known in China as The War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea), “Sacrifice” is a tale of courage under fire that focuses on Chinese forces repairing a bridge, while coming under repeated American bombardment. The narrative very much fits with that of the current “Cold War” between the world’s two wealthiest nations. And cinema and TV screens will see several other films, documentaries and series on the same subject.

    “Sacrifice” is made by three of China’s most commercially-successful directors Guan Hu (“The Eight Hundred”), Frant Gwo (“The Wandering Earth”) and Lu Yang (“Brotherhood of Blades”). And stars Wu Jing (“Wolf Warrior”), Deng Chao (“Shadow”, “The Mermaid”) star, along with several veterans of “The Eight Hundred” including Li Juixiao and Vision Wei.

    With patriotism the flavor of the moment in Chinese entertainment, propaganda omnibus film “My People, My Homeland” placed second over the weekend. It earned $11.2 million for a 25-day cumulative gross of $389 million.

    Chinese animation “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification” came a distant third with $2.8 million, for a cumulative of $233 million. “Coffee or Tea” took $2.5 million for fourth place, and a cumulative of $40.6 million after 22 days, while romance “The Story of Xi Bao” earned $2.4 million in fifth place for a total of $14.3 million. Patriotic sports drama “Leap” earned $2.33 million for a total of $120 million after 31 days.

    Chinese culture, beliefs and rituals were all part of big-budget animation film “Over The Moon,” but Chinese audiences did not bite into this particular seasonal delicacy. It earned just RMB4 million or $600,000, despite having as many as 11,000 screenings on Saturday.

    The film was made as a co-production between China’s Pearl Studios (predominantly owned by CMC since Dreamworks sold its shares) and global streaming company Netflix. China was the only territory where it got a theatrical outing.

    The timing of the release, however, was curious. It came some three weeks after the mid-autumn festival that the film celebrates through its narratives of family reunion, food and the moon goddess Chang’e. As mid-autumn festival overlapped with the Oct. 1 National Day celebrations, it might suggest that Chinese traditions are trumped by party politics.

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    Hollywood pandering...

    Right now, the PRC film market is the only one that is open. Is that pandering?

    Nov 1, 2017 6:03pm PT
    Hollywood Scripts And Casting Pandering to China Box Office (Report)


    By Patrick Frater


    Courtesy of Warner Bros.
    Hollywood has long been accused of pandering to China – soft-pedalling in order not to give offense. Now comes a study by Hong Kong production company Dragon Horse Films attempts to quantify just how far Western entertainment conglomerates are self-censoring.

    The company says that there is a correlation between the size of the Chinese box office and the number of Hollywood decisions to avoid negative Chinese story lines and characters.

    It says that a tipping point occurred in 2011 when the Chinese theatrical box office exceeded $2 billion. That put it on a par with grosses from Japan and on course to become the world’s second largest B.O. territory. China’s B.O. last year hit $6.4 billion and is now forecast to approach $8 billion in 2017.

    “With the rising importance of the mainland Chinese box office, Hollywood and Hong Kong producers routinely self-censor stories to appease Beijing’s strict censorship rules,” says Michael T. George of MTG Asia Ltd, who contributed to the report. “That means anything intellectually challenging is to be avoided. No politics. No social issues. Not even a wisp of irony. Authorities must always be portrayed in a positive light – unless they are corrupt foreigners.”

    The report, which catalogs 120 English-language movies, with Chinese storylines or characters, that have been released since China opened its economy in 1978, says that Chinese bad guys are still seen in some English language movies, but these are usually co-productions with mainland Chinese partners. That means scripts must be submitted to censors in the same way as if they were local Chinese films. It gives the example of “Smart Chase” and “Skiptrace.”

    Alternatively, if Hollywood producers feature Chinese villains, they cast Western actors, such as Dave Bautista in “Enter the Warrior’s Gate.” An alternate strategy is to cast other Asians, often Koreans. Examples there include Luc Besson’s “Lucy” or the remake of John Woo’s “A Better Tomorrow.”

    Other commentators have made similar observations. They cite the positive portrayal of China’s space program in both “Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” and Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” Another was 2012 MGM movie “Red Dawn,” in which CGI was used in post-production to change soldiers originally filmed as Chinese into North Korean.

    The full report is published on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
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    I predicted this 12 years ago when I started this thread...

    ...but I didn't foresee it happening this way.

    It's Official: China Overtakes North America as World's Biggest Box Office in 2020
    9:43 PM PDT 10/18/2020 by Patrick Brzeski


    Courtesy of Beijing Culture
    'My People, My Homeland'


    As the American entertainment industry ponders whether the pandemic has done permanent damage to moviegoing, China's theaters have returned to strong earnings.
    China is officially home to the world's biggest movie box office.

    Movie ticket sales in China for 2020 climbed to $1.988 billion on Sunday, surpassing North America's total of $1.937 billion, according to data from Artisan Gateway. The gap is expected to widen considerably by year's end.

    Analysts have long predicted that the world's most populous country would one day top the global charts. But the results still represent a historic sea change: North America has been the global box office's center of gravity since the dawn of the motion picture business.

    It only took a pandemic to accelerate the transition.

    Thanks to China's effective containment of COVID-19, the country’s tens of thousands of theaters are operating at 75 percent of usual seating capacity, while filmgoers are demonstrating little hesitation about returning to the multiplex.

    During the recent weeklong National Day holiday, running Oct. 1-8, China's cinemas sold $586 million worth of tickets. Local blockbuster My People, My Homeland brought in $19.1 million over just the past weekend, lifting its total earnings to $360 million after 18 days. China also has produced the world's biggest hit of 2020, WWII epic The Eight Hundred, with $460 million and counting. (Hollywood's biggest global earner this year is Sony's Bad Boys for Life at $426.5 million.)

    The state of the North American box office, meanwhile, could scarcely be more dire. With theaters in many major markets still closed due to the United States' dangerously high COVID-19 infection rates, much of the industry's chatter has turned to the question of whether the damage done to the domestic theatrical film model might become permanent.

    The major studios have postponed all of their biggest tentpole releases — such as Marvel's Black Widow and the James Bond film No Time to Die — until at least early 2021. AMC Theatres, North America's largest cinema chain, warned last week that it could run out of cash by the end of this year.

    Liam Neeson's action flick Honest Thief, from Open Road, topped the North American box office over the past frame with just $3.7 million — results that were considered respectable given the state of cinemas.

    Some industry insiders also worry that escalating political turmoil between Washington and Beijing could soon undercut Hollywood's longterm foothold in China, the one market where sales are again strong.

    In the seemingly distant days of 2019, North America was still on top with combined annual tickets sales of $11.4 billion, with China trailing in second place at $9.2 billion. China's 2020 win comes with a COVID-19 asterisk — the question is whether the new order will prove permanent.

    PATRICK BRZESKI
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    Gene Ching
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  11. #371
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    It's a hollow win...

    ...a weird 'I told you so' moment for me. When I first started my Chollywood Rising column, I imagined writing a final one and titled 'Chollywood Risen' but then I swapped the title for 'Fast Forward to the Fight Scenes.'

    I may still write that essay someday. It's been a long and winding road.

    Dec 24, 2020 8:30am PT
    Local Movies Ruled the Asia Box Office in 2020. How Can Hollywood Catch Up?

    By Patrick Frater


    Courtesy of Showbox
    While the North American box office pulls in less than $5 million per weekend due to COVID-19, the China and Japan markets are not only open, but also capable of breaking theatrical records. It may feel logical to hurry more U.S. movies into Asian release, but when the real winners across the continent in 2020 have largely been local releases, studios and streamers will need to think long and hard about their strategy going forward.

    Certainly, earning even a lowball $10 million from a theatrical release in China appears to be an attractive option at a time when Europe and the North American domestic markets are currently so dysfunctional. This was the route taken by Disney with “Mulan,” which went to premium VOD in Disney Plus territories and grossed a handy $42.2 million (RMB277 million) from Chinese theaters.

    Kevin Spacey Shares Christmas Eve Video Dedicated to People Suffering in 2020: ‘It Gets Better’
    Similarly, Universal has seen China cinemas deliver $49.9 million of the $85 million global theatrical cumulative to date on “The Croods: A New Age.” Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” earned $18.8 million in three days in China where there is no HBO Max outing to undermine the exclusive theatrical window.

    The logic of exploiting properties in Asia or licensing off individual titles applies to streamers as well as traditional studios. After all, none of the global OTT giants have complete networks in the region: Netflix doesn’t operate as a platform in mainland China, and Disney Plus will only roll out in Singapore in February and the world’s number four theatrical market South Korea some time later in 2021.

    Elsewhere, Amazon Prime Video is patchier still in Asia — its major markets in the region are Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and India — reflecting the holes in the parent company’s Asian e-commerce network. WarnerMedia is targeting HBO Max rollouts in Latin America and Europe in 2021, but an Asia launch is still further over the horizon.

    “The theory sounds simple enough. If you don’t have the D2C [direct-to-consumer] possibility in China, then you might want to license your content or exploit it another way. It recognizes the role of theatrical. But this is not an aggressive strategy [for any of the studios or global streamers] and may be an interim 2021 solution. Our view is that Disney is becoming flexible, not dogmatic, on windows,” says Vivek Couto, executive director at consultancy Media Partners Asia.

    “After 2021, all bets that it would continue are off,” he adds.

    To some extent, the global groups are prevented from rolling out their platforms any faster, as many of their content slates are currently committed to third-party regional streamers or pay-TV groups. That’s certainly the case for HBO Max in India, where HBO content is licensed to Disney-owned Hotstar, and in Australia, where shows are committed to News Corp-Telstra joint venture Foxtel. Meanwhile, Warners’ other VOD service, HBO Go, is now operational in eight Asian territories.

    But another, more enduring problem is the long-term declining impact of Hollywood content as tastes in many Asian markets swing towards local fare — most notably in Korea, Japan and China — and the Hollywood studios’ numerous failed attempts to engineer global content with Asian roots.

    The biggest successes at Asian box offices this year are resoundingly local. The top film in China is “The Eight Hundred” (gross $472 million), while “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” has amassed $291 million in Japan, just shy of an all-time record. Box office in Taiwan, where cinemas did not close for COVID-19, has this year been dominated by “Demon Slayer” ($20.4 million) and Korean horror “Peninsula.” The top four films in Korea are all local, headed by the $37 million for “The Man Standing Next,” ahead of “Deliver Us From Evil” and “Peninsula.”

    With the exception of the $530 million-grossing “The Meg,” Hollywood’s most recent attempts at rooting global fare in Asia haven’t had the broad appeal studios might have been hoping for. “Crazy Rich Asians” was global hit, but a dud in China. Legendary Entertainment’s Matt Damon-starring “The Great Wall” earned less than half of its $334 million total outside China.

    China’s Pearl Studio, now free of its joint venture with Dreamworks Animation, hasn’t found the success it sought with its two most recent East-West hybrids. “Abominable” earned just $16 million of its $179 million global total in its home market. “Over The Moon” was seen as too westernized and earned RMB6 million, less than $1 million, before being turned over to Chinese streamers Tencent Video and iQIYI to exploit.

    Those disappointments are now forcing the company into a change of tack. “Pearl is undergoing a transition in terms of its content strategy. In addition to animation films in English language aiming global audience, Pearl will also deploy resources to focus on Chinese-language animation movies for which China is the main market,” Catherine Ying, new president of Pearl Studio, president of CMC Pictures, and VP of CMC Inc., tells Variety.

    “Pearl will collaborate more with local Chinese talent in the areas of story development and production [and establish] a closer working relationship with CMC Pictures.”

    But if local content, rather than Hollywood superheroes and East-West hybrids, is what Asian audiences want, the studios and their soon-to-be expanded streaming offshoots are going to have to stock up on vastly more Asian content than they ever used to. That’s exactly what Disney did when launching Disney Plus Hotstar in Indonesia in September. It licensed some 300 titles and struck content supply deals with seven local studios.

    “Disney Plus and Peacock will need local content in Asia,” says Couto. “Hollywood is becoming marginalized theatrically. Online it still works, but everyone has it.”

    That points to a need for Asian local originals that work with local audiences and can help define a platform’s brand identity. But it’s not as though the studios haven’t tried.

    Hollywood has repeatedly struggled to get local production in Asia right. Many initiatives have withered or been shut down. Columbia TriStar was an early pioneer in China at the beginning of the century. Since 2015, Disney has halted local production in China and pulled out in India, despite buying UTV, the largest local studio. The Disney-owned Fox Star Studios is similarly now a distributor, no longer a producer. Pre-Disney, Fox produced its first movie in Indonesia in 2018, but it stopped there. Warner quietly halted production in Korea this year, though it remains a distributor and financier of local film in Taiwan and Japan.

    That retreat from Asian production stands in sharp contrast with the strategy at Netflix, which is going all in on production of drama originals in Korea (more than 50 to date), and anime in Japan, where it has supply contracts with seven local studios. Amazon, too, has a shelf full of comedy originals from Japan.

    “We’ve seen this year that a great story can come from anywhere. We don’t believe that audiences are so concerned by original language. It’s about great story, then subbing and dubbing,” a Netflix spokesman in Asia tells Variety.

    The company hasn’t produced shows in mainland China, but it has latched on to the country’s emerging sci-fi genre, picking up 2018 smash hit “The Wandering Earth.” In recent weeks, it licensed glossy fantasy “The Yin-Yang Master” ahead of its Dec. 25 local release. “With China, we are selective. We are looking at beloved classics and for elements that are relatable, transferable and universal, in genres that include culture, action, drama and fun,” the spokesman explains.

    “Japanese anime is going big this year. That is a pleasant surprise to everybody. And it’s interesting to see that, with anime, a theatrical release doesn’t seem to diminish the value to our members.”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  12. #372
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    Chollywood risen

    Will it hold? Probably. At least for a while...

    China’s box office expands to world’s largest, defying a year of disastrous takings as Covid-19 brings cinemas to their knees
    Movie ticket sales in China stood at US$3.06 billion last year, 69 per cent lower than the record high of US$9.8 billion in 2019
    War epic ‘The Eight Hundred’ becomes the first Chinese blockbuster to top the global box office charts
    Enoch Yiu
    Published: 7:29pm, 1 Jan, 2021


    Cinemas in China were closed for 178 days between January and late July last year as authorities on the mainland took stringent measures to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control. Photo: Shutterstock Images
    China overtook the US as the world’s biggest box office market for the first time last year but revenues fell sharply as the mainland’s control of the Covid-19 pandemic helped to bring film-goers back to the cinemas even as the entertainment industry in the rest of the world endures a slump.
    Movie ticket sales in China stood at 20 billion yuan (US$3.06 billion) in 2020, much higher than the US$2.28 billion takings in the US, according to data from China’s Maoyan Entertainment and Comscore of the US.
    Ticketing revenue in China, however, plummeted 69 per cent from the all-time high of 64.27 billion yuan (US$9.8 billion) in 2019. And in the US, ticket sales sank 80 per cent from the second-best box office haul ever of US$11.4 billion in 2019.
    It was also the first time a Chinese film outdid a Hollywood blockbuster to top the global box office takings.
    t
    A still from the war epic The Eight Hundred, which made US$461.34 million in ticket sales. Photo: Handout
    The Eight Hundred, a war epic about 800 Chinese soldiers fighting against the Japanese army in Shanghai in 1937, raked in US$461.34 million, pipping Bad Boy for Life – a Hollywood movie about Miami detectives – which came second with US$426.5 million in ticket sales, according to data from Box Office Mojo. Bad Boy for Life was released last January before the pandemic forced the closure of cinemas worldwide.
    The Eight Hundred was the first Chinese blockbuster to hit the cinemas in August after the coronavirus outbreak in January led to the closure of all theatres in the mainland for 178 days until July 20. At present, most cinemas in China are open while thousands in the US remain shut due to rising infections.
    “China’s economy started to recover from July after restrictions on social gatherings were eased, including going to the movies,” said Louis Tse Ming-kwong, managing director of brokerage Wealthy Securities. “Even though China has allowed people to resume domestic travelling, it is cumbersome to travel far from home due to heavy traffic, the need to book hotels, etc. Hence, people prefer social activities, such as going to the cinemas close to their homes.”
    Tse is upbeat on China’s box office outlook this year, but was quick to add that the “quality of movies is important to attract film-goers to go to the cinemas”.
    Many Hollywood studios have postponed their biggest releases from 2020 to early 2021, such as Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick; the James Bond film No Time to Die as well as Marvel’s Black Widow. That paved the way for Chinese films to top the global box office charts.
    At number three was another Chinese flick, My People, My Homeland, which made US$422.38 million. Released during China’s “golden week” national holiday in October, it sold more tickets than the Hollywood science fiction action-thriller Tenet. The Christopher Nolan-helmed film ranked fourth at US$362.42 million.
    The release of the latest James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed to April because of Covid-19. Photo: Handout
    The release of the latest James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed to April because of Covid-19. Photo: Handout
    While Chinese films make most of their revenues at home, Hollywood films have a wider appeal. Bad Boy for Life and Tenet made more than half of their ticket sales outside the US.
    “China can become the largest movie market worldwide permanently due to its large population and strong economic growth,” said Joseph Tong Tang, chairman of Morton Securities in Hong Kong.
    “As China overtakes the US as the world’s largest economy in a few years’ time, the movie market is only reflecting what is yet to come,” Tang said.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  13. #373
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    Hong Kong film

    Bleak outlook for Hong Kong film industry as Covid-19 keeps cinemas shut and fewer movies are made
    Box office takings fell 72 per cent to HK$537 million last year, as cinemas closed for 116 days
    Glimmer of hope in producing films for mainland Chinese audiences, say industry veterans
    Cannix Yau
    Published: 3:30pm, 23 Jan, 2021


    Cinemas in Hong Kong have been forced to close under social-distancing rules enacted to control the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Edmond So
    Hong Kong’s once-glittering movie industry has lost its shine, hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic which closed cinemas, shrank box office takings and resulted in fewer films made last year.
    Industry players expecting another bleak year ahead say the only hope now is to make films that appeal to mainland Chinese audiences.
    “This year will be miserable for domestic films if they only focus on the local market. Losses are inevitable,” said Crucindo Hung Cho-sing, chairman of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association.
    The city’s cinemas saw their takings plunge by 72 per cent to HK$537 million (US$69.27 million) last year, from HK$1.92 billion in 2019, according to Hong Kong Box Office Ltd.
    Cinemas showed fewer movies last year, with the total falling by a third to 218, from 319 in 2019. Photo: Warton Li
    With each wave of Covid-19 infections, the government ordered cinemas to close three times for varying periods last year, keeping them shut for a total of 116 days. Cinemas remain closed under current restrictions.
    Fewer new films opened last year too. The total fell by a third to 218, from 319 in 2019, with only 34 Hong Kong productions, down from 49 the year before.
    Tenet, a Hollywood science fiction action-thriller, was last year’s highest-grossing title, taking HK$54.9 million at the box office. Among Hong Kong films, kung fu comedy The Grand Grandmaster performed best, grossing HK$29.5 million, followed by low-budget mystery-romance Beyond The Dream, which earned about HK$15.3 million.
    A scene from the kung fu comedy ‘The Grand Grandmaster’. Photo: Handout
    A scene from the kung fu comedy ‘The Grand Grandmaster’. Photo: Handout
    No longer ‘Hollywood of the East’
    In its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Hong Kong was dubbed the Hollywood of the East, more than 200 films were churned out every year and the city was the world’s second-biggest movie exporter.
    Those days are gone, and Hung said the Chinese market was now the only way out for local filmmakers, especially through co-productions that can be distributed as domestic films in Chinese cities.
    “It is impossible for local titles to make money in Hong Kong. They have to rely on the Chinese market for survival,” he said.
    Cinema attendances on the mainland bounced back through the second half of last year as it brought its Covid-19 outbreak under control.
    Over the recent three-day New Year holiday, mainland cinemas raked in a record 1.29 billion yuan (US$199 million), surpassing the previous record of 1.27 billion yuan for the same period in 2018.
    Two mainland films were the top performers on New Year’s Day. A Little Red Flower, about two families and their battle against cancer, grossed 246 million yuan, while the comedy Warm Hug made more than 160 million yuan. Hong Kong action film The Shock Wave 2 starring Andy Lau came third with 92.92 million yuan.
    Hung pointed to the mainland’s 1.4 billion people in emphasising the potential there for Hong Kong movie makers.
    “The mainland’s movie market is very strange and unpredictable,” he said. “Even a low-budget film on some offbeat topic can become a big hit. So the China market has become the dream factory for filmmakers to flex their muscles.”
    Hung said local filmmakers keen to roll out low-budget productions could look to the Greater Bay Area, which comprised Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong that Beijing aimed to turn into a technological and economic powerhouse.
    A host of measures exist to help the city’s filmmakers tap the bay area, with various restrictions on issues including the key creative personnel, cast and plots being eased.
    Veteran filmmaker John Chong Ching, who produced famous Hong Kong films such as the Infernal Affairs trilogy, agreed with Hung and said Covid-19 has had only a minor impact on big-budget co-productions released on the mainland.
    For co-productions, Hong Kong filmmakers face the challenge of having limited creative freedom
    Jimmy Pang. culture critic
    “Hong Kong cinemas have become the biggest casualty as they have been forced to shut on-and-off for a long time last year, causing a lot of delays to many movie screenings,” he said.
    “But for co-productions which rely on the market for generating at least 70 per cent of their revenue, many moviemakers have been actively rolling out projects and preparing pre-production work.”
    However, Chong said there was a formula for success, and Hong Kong co-productions that did well on the mainland were usually crime-related action thrillers rather than romance or art house films.
    Prominent culture critic Jimmy Pang Chi-ming doubted that Hong Kong-mainland co-productions were the way to go, saying the mainland authorities still had a lot of restrictions that affected the creativity of filmmakers.
    Last year, for example, they tightened censorship of movie content, extending bans on plots centred on ghosts, gay love and time travel, and indicated that romance films should avoid being “overly sweet”.
    “For co-productions, Hong Kong filmmakers face the challenge of having limited creative freedom which easily compromises their film’s quality,” he said.
    A scene from the Hong Kong action film ‘The Shock Wave 2’, starring Andy Lau. Photo: Handout
    ‘Hard to shoot street scenes now’
    To support the stricken industry, the Hong Kong government earmarked about HK$260 million last year under the Film Development Fund to increase the number of local productions, nurture young directors and scriptwriting talent and provide more training opportunities.
    In three rounds of the HK$300-billion Anti-epidemic Fund, the government also provided one-off subsidies to cinemas ranging from HK$50,000 to HK$100,000 per screen in each tranche.
    Since early last year, about 30 local productions have been completed or are being filmed, including eight subsidised by different schemes under the Film Development Fund.
    Veteran producer and actor Tenky Tin Kai-man, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, said the city’s movie industry remained mired in uncertainty because of the pandemic.
    “Before a new film is released, the movie company needs to spend HK$300,000 to more than HK$1 million on promotion and advertising. Last year, many releases were disrupted by the sudden closure of cinemas and a lot of money went down the drain,” he said.
    Plans were made for the Andy Lau movie The Shock Wave 2 to open in Hong Kong at Christmas, he said, but the city’s cinemas were ordered closed in early December.
    “We have no idea when cinemas can reopen,” he said.
    The pandemic has also affected moviemaking in the city. “It is difficult for filmmakers to shoot street scenes in Hong Kong as the pedestrians are all wearing masks. Uncertain factors like these have turned off film investors,” he said.
    Tin said he has been actively lobbying investors to bankroll more projects as many frontline production workers have been out of job for a long time. Hong Kong’s culture industries, which includes film production, employed 217,280 people, or 5.6 per cent of the city’s total workforce in 2018.
    “Amid all this pessimism, I believe there’s a great demand for feel-good, happy films which promote positive energy,” he said.
    Tin admitted that the trend of streaming films online via media platforms such as Netflix, iQiyi.com and Tencent Video, had also posed a challenge to filmmakers.
    “Film investors need to rethink how to adjust film distribution to make sure they can still make money from this trend and at the same time attract cinema-goers too,” he said.
    Seems like forever since I wrote for Hong Kong Film magazine.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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    The other shoe drops...

    It's hard to make these claims while the pandemic is still going.

    What if China no longer needs Hollywood? That's bad news for the film industry
    By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business

    Updated 12:49 PM ET, Thu January 28, 2021

    In 2020, China overtook the United States to become the top movie market in the world. The country, perennially the second-largest movie market, brought in $3.1 billion at the box office in 2020, according to Comscore (SCOR) — nearly $1 billion more than the United States did last year.
    Now, obviously, there's a glaring asterisk here: coronavirus. China bounced back much faster than the United States did following the initial outbreak in the country. That led to theaters opening sooner than those in the United States, which still has many of its theaters closed.
    Caveats aside, some major Hollywood films just didn't catch on with Chinese audiences in 2020. Warner Bros.' "Wonder Woman 1984" didn't do well there, and Disney's "Mulan" — a movie aimed at Chinese audiences — was a big disappointment. This comes after years of Hollywood globalizing their blockbusters in hopes that they connect with American and international audiences, like those in China.
    So what if China no longer needs Hollywood?

    A Hollywood without China?

    "If China doesn't need US movies, Hollywood studios will have to dramatically reduce their spending on big budget blockbusters," Aynne Kokas, the author of "Hollywood Made in China," told CNN Business. "The current budgets are unsustainable without access to the China market. That could fundamentally change the model of the US film industry."
    Kokas, an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, explained that to sell films to the Chinese audience, US studios have cast "Chinese stars and adjusted content to serve the Mainland Chinese market."
    Recent examples are removing the Taiwan flag on Tom Cruise's jacket in the upcoming "Top Gun: Maverick" and "the retelling of 'Doctor Strange' so that a lead character is Celtic rather than Tibetan," she said. China considers self-ruled Taiwan a breakaway province and maintains a tight grip on Tibet, where the US government says ethnic Tibetans' religious freedom has been severely restricted.
    Kokas said that "unless the US gets Covid under control and theaters open, Hollywood will become increasingly dependent on China."
    "Regardless of what happens with Covid, we have at a minimum entered a world where the Chinese and US box offices are equally important," she added.
    AMC's CEO believes his movie theaters will survive through 2021
    AMC's CEO believes his movie theaters will survive through 2021
    While Hollywood movies have stumbled in China lately, some films produced by Chinese studios and production companies have flourished.
    China released a blockbuster of its own in August called "The Eight Hundred." The action war film from China's CMC Pictures grossed more than $100 million in the country on its opening weekend and made more than $400 million worldwide.
    Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNN Business that it's telling that the Chinese box office rebounded in 2020 mostly due to their handling of the pandemic's impact as well as "the volume of strong, in-demand local content."
    "There is a clear strength in China's market that allows them to not rely exclusively on Hollywood products," he said. "That's an internal advantage of their industry."
    Hollywood's problems in China could also be related to rising geopolitical tensions with the US itself. Coronavirus caused a rift between the US and China that has lead to a surge of nationalism in the country and anti-foreign sentiment, which is often stirred by China's state media.

    The two pillars of the global box office

    2020 was a year that changed the pecking order at the global box office, but Hollywood shouldn't ring the alarm bells just yet. The appeal of many American brands among Chinese audiences "probably hasn't waned significantly," Robbins points out.
    "While we've seen mixed results from Hollywood titles opening there during the pandemic, let's also remember the sample size is quite small and doesn't necessarily reflect what happened before the pandemic and likely what could happen after," he added.
    Robbins said that "Wonder Woman 1984" was a misfire in China for several reasons, including that "its predecessor itself wasn't nearly the runaway blockbuster in that country that it was in other parts of the world."
    He also added that the controversies surrounding "Mulan" before its release likely didn't help its success in the country, either. And Chinese audiences weren't arguably big fans of the original 1998 animated version of the film because of how the US and Disney retold and westernized the original legend.
    But franchises like Marvel, Fast & Furious, and other Disney titles have been "among the reliable imports China's market banks on," he said.
    "It's hard to see that changing dramatically in the short term once the world begins to recover from the pandemic later in 2021 — especially when considering nearly half of 2019's top grossing films in the Middle Kingdom were Hollywood-made."
    So where do Hollywood and China go from here? That question, like so many in the film industry right now, has no easy answer. Yet whatever the future of the film industry is, it's likely to be one where Hollywood and China remain the two major pillars holding up the global box office.
    "Ultimately, though, the global box office landscape depends greatly on what these two giants can achieve in the years going forward," Robbins said.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  15. #375
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    $1.2b


    Chinese New Year Box Office Hits $1.2B, Sets Record High Over Holiday Period


    By Nancy Tartaglione
    International Box Office Editor/Senior Contributor
    @DeadlineNancy

    February 17, 2021 12:40pm


    Wanda Pictures
    The Chinese New Year box office achieved yet another milestone Wednesday, with grosses for the holiday period growing to an estimated RMB 7.78 billion ($1.2 billion). This beats the previous all-time high set during the comparable 2019 holiday (RMB 5.9B). China often outdoes itself, but the fact that 2021’s Lunar New Year frame came with Covid capacity restrictions makes the performance even more staggering.

    Factors working in the session’s favor included a diverse slate of seven new local titles (including two powerhouses at the top), as well as increased ticket prices in some areas, additional screens versus 2019 and a reduction in travel which made moviegoing the first-choice activity for people who were not journeying to see family as would normally be the case during the holiday.

    After setting new records for opening day and opening weekend in a single market (February 12-14), Wanda Pictures’ Detective Chinatown 3 has grossed RMB 3.56B ($551 million) through Wednesday. It is not only far and away the top movie of the year globally, but is also nearly 20% bigger than 2020’s top worldwide title, China’s The Eight Hundred — and this after just six days of play, with more to come.

    While DC3 led the weekend, Beijing Culture’s time-travel comedy Hi, Mom was atop the daily charts from Monday-Wednesday and has grossed RMB 2.73B ($423M). Hi, Mom is projected by Maoyan to top out at RMB 5.28 ($817M), which would make it the No. 2 movie ever in the market. DC3 is eyeing RMB 4.51B ($698M), estimates Maoyan, a 33% local currency increase on the previous installment in the popular franchise.

    Overall, there were seven new local movies for the New Year session which rolled out beginning February 12; the public holiday in China ran from February 11-17, though celebrations continue. Through Wednesday, the titles above are rounded out by A Writer’s Odyssey (RMB 538.2/$83.32M), Boonie Bears: The Wild Life (RMB 407M/$63M), New Gods: Nezha Reborn (RMB240.1M/$37.2M), The Yin Yang Master (RMB 211M/$33M) and Endgame (151M/$23.4M).

    Xinhua reports that more than 155 million tickets were sold during the New Year frame, up from 130M in 2019. That’s reflective of pent-up demand for big new titles — especially given Detective Chinatown 3 was delayed by a year when Covid shuttered cinemas in early 2020 — and in part reflective of the increased number of screens in the market, which was 75,500 by the end of 2020, compared to just under 70,000 at the end of 2019.

    China was the first country severely hit by the coronavirus, and implemented strict lockdown measures across the board. After six months of cinema closures, it slowly re-acclimated audiences. That began in July 2020 with some import titles whose releases had been delayed by Covid (think: Dolittle) and library movies like the first Harry Potter and some older Christopher Nolan pics. Once the market was primed, China released The Eight Hundred to huge results last August. Notes an international exec, “What China is showing is that where the virus is under control and people feel safe, they’re coming back (to cinemas) in droves.” We’ve seen some similar phenomena in Korea and Japan, although with more Covid ebbs and flows affecting momentum.

    The early estimated RMB 7.78B Chinese New Year period (which also includes holdover play from movies like Disney-Pixar’s Soul), is already 38% of the total box office for 2020 in China. It’s also about 10% of 2020 global box office, 12% of international box office and 55% of domestic box office last year.

    For the first month and a half of 2021, China box office has crossed RMB 10B, according to state news media, meaning it’s already more than 50% of 2020’s full gross. The good news out of China hopefully serves as an indicator of recovery that will be seen in other markets as they get back up and running with new product.
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    Gene Ching
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