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Thread: Chollywood rising

  1. #31
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    A lot can happen in a decade

    Maybe Hollywood can deduct that 100 billion from the 846.7 billion America has borrowed from China. I can see the Chinese collectors now. "Ni hao. We'll just take Hollywood. Xie xie ni."
    Gene Ching
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  2. #32
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    true true...alot can happen...but i just dont see chinese films eclipsing hollywood, many have tried all have failed. like i said its all about global appeal.once chinese cinema stops treating non asians as foreign devils in the movies, they might have more appeal, to the non-asian film lover like yours truly.

  3. #33
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    actually gene we owe china about 350 billion. and we didnt borrow it, china just bought american bonds, actually japan owns the most american debt with 644billion. foreign countries buy american bonds because american is(or was) known to always pay its debt on time. lol i just got a funny vision of obama getting calls from debt collectors and he pretends to be george bush.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    A lot of those classics are really dated now. I know I've been waiting for Tower of Death on Blu-Ray...
    Well, I'm hoping they finally release films like Wheels on Meals on DVD. Also, there are a lot of good non-Jackie Golden Harvest/Fortune Star movies that I'd like to own, such as The Himalayan, etc. The only thing I don't like about Fortune Star's treatment of the GH movies is, in a lot of cases, they tampered w/the sound effects, totally redid the English dubs (badly), and sometimes changed the soundtrack music. So with Fortune Star releases, it's always better to watch them in original language w/subs.

    As far as Chinese films ever dominating the global market, I seriously doubt it'll ever happen. IMO, the top U.S. mega-hits will always dominate, even in China. Plus, Chinese films almost always portray non-Chinese, including other Asians, as bad or inherently worse than they are. Yes, U.S. films can and have done similar things, esp. in the past.

    But that aside, another problem with Chinese cinema is, if they have a hit, then they'll oversaturate the market with a bunch of the same type of film, like all the wuxias following Crouching Tiger, or all the different Ip Man movies at once. Until people get sick of them and stop watching entirely. Plus, at least in the U.S., it seems that the general (not arthouse or cult viewers) audiences don't like subtitled movies. Most may watch a few, then when the novelty has worn off, they'll tune out of other subbed movies and opt back to the familiar.

    Sure, U.S. films also follow hit films with similar type films, like all the computer-animated family films, or the popularity of comic book superhero movies. But the key is that there's more variety in the types of stories in these films, as opposed to the narrow scope of the Chinese films that tend to follow in the wake of a hit movie.

    Of course, Chinese films have come a long way since the '70s in terms of general acceptance internationally.

  5. #35
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    Follow the money

    WSJ is. It gets back to that old sleeping dragon market concept - if I could sell a can of soda to every Chinese citizen, I'd be rich. As the global economy shifts, the Chinese film market is booming. It's still small compared to Hollywood, but given the growth arc, everyone is scrambling to get in on the ground floor.

    What's more, Chollywood is not just about Chinese-made films. It's the whole industry, so films made in China, like Karate Kid count too.
    * NOVEMBER 17, 2010, 5:04 P.M. ET
    China's Bona Film Files To Sell Up To $80 Mln In ADS In IPO

    Chinese film distributor Bona Film Group Ltd. plans to sell up to an estimated $80 million of American depositary shares in a U.S. initial public offering.

    The company, which is the largest privately owned film distributor in China, has applied for its ADSs to be traded on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol BONA.

    Bona Film distributes movies on all of the theater circuits in China. It has joint-distribution arrangements with state-owned China Film Group Corp., among other companies, and has distributed 17 Chinese movies internationally since 2008.

    The company plans to use proceeds from the IPO for possible acquisitions, which may include movie theaters, and to acquire film distribution rights and invest in film productions.

    For the first three quarters of the year, Bona Film reported a loss of $7.5 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $1.2 million. Revenue more than doubled to $35 million.

    The U.S. IPO market has improved in recent weeks and Chinese companies in particular have seen successful launches.
    Gene Ching
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  6. #36
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    Down Under deal

    China, Australia Form New Co-Prod Organization
    9:10 AM 11/30/2010 by Pip Bulbeck

    Two Countries Signed Co-Production Treaty Three Years Ago

    SYDNEY – Australian filmmakers aiming to capitalize on a three-year-old co-production treaty with China have formed the Australian China Screen Alliance as a subsidiary of the Screen Producers Association of Australia to speed and smooth interaction with the fastest-growing film market in the world.

    In a country where most of the biggest imports still come from Hollywood, the SPAA wants the Australia-based alliance to partner with China-based filmmakers’ groups to work together to take advantage of a box office that will soon shatter its 2009 record of $909 million in ticket sales.

    Already, the Xi'an Qujiang Film and TV Investment Group in central China has taken a step in this direction, recently signing an agreement to establish their own chapter of the Australian China Screen Alliance.

    At first, the Alliance will act in an advisory capacity and play matchmaker between Australian producers looking for partners based in China, people who can co-produce, provide resources, direct consultations and facilitate dialogue between the two filmmaking communities.

    SPAA executive director Geoff Brown said that the Chinese appetite for international co-production is growing rapidly along with the economy.

    As Chinese expendable income goes up, so has the box office. Thanks in large part to Avatar and 2012, both from Hollywood, China’s Jan.-Jun. 2010 box office jumped 86% compared with the same period a year ago.

    "This year's box office gross may close at $1.6 billion, and is expected to get to $4.5 billion in the next five years,” said Brown, adding that in Australia, “We are one of the first countries to be making such a serious effort on co-productions with China, which means we have a head start.”

    Three years ago, Aussie director Roger Spotiswoode made what most people in the industry consider the first de facto Sino-Aussie co-production, the WWII drama called The Children of Huangshi, even though it went into production before the treaty had come fully into effect.

    Most co-productions in China now come from Hong Kong, whose filmmakers enjoy favorable import terms and have the advantage of a shared culture. Sino-Aussie co-production imports would, like co-prods from Hong Kong, avoid Beijing’s annual 20-film import cap on foreign titles allowed to give a share of their gross back to the copyright holders.

    Australia’s not the only country to set its sites on China’s huge movie market, with France, Singapore and New Zealand all signing treaties of their own with Beijing in the last eight months. Still, the SPAA’s Brown is confident about Australia’s jump in China: “I believe we have about a three-year window before it becomes a massively competitive field with other countries.”

    Mario Andreacchio is chairman of the new Australian China Screen Alliance. His children’s film The Dragon Pearl, now in post-production, will be the first official Sino-Australian co-production made under the treaty, first signed in August 2007.

    Andreacchio and his partners the Hengdian World Film Studios outside Shanghai are already learning to compromise to get the film done: the film’s working title, The Last Dragon, had to be changed to accommodate the Chinese view that the beast core to the country’s mythical culture would never cease to exist.

    Looking past their differences, Andreacchio said he’s excited by the sheer scale of the filmmaking going on in China, even far from the traditional filmmaking centers of Beijing and Shanghai: “In Xi'an alone they have over 300 film production companies, many of which are wanting to do co-production with Australia now. This is typical of the potential in the filmmaking industry that exists in provinces and regions around China.”

    Andreacchio, Brown and Ausfilm chair Alaric McAusland, will be touting the benefits of the Australian China Screen Alliance and the Sino-Australian co-production treaty at the upcoming Australia-China Film Industry Forum set to take place in Beijing Dec. 8-12.

    The forum is an initiative of the Australian embassy there as part of Imagine Australia, the Year of Australian Culture in China.

    The embassy is working with Screen Australia and the China Film Bureau as the official government partners, with the China Film Co-Production Corp. -- led by Madame Zhang Xun -- as the forum co-host and the Beijing Film Academy as the academic program partner.

    A third Sino-Australian co-production called Mei Mei, meaning "little sister," also is in the works.

    -- Jonathan Landreth in Beijing contributed to this report.
    300 film production companies in Xian?
    Gene Ching
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  7. #37
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    Would like to buy some of their stock. Thanks for the info, Gene. Will be watching for the listing. http://www.filmbiz.asia/news/bona-fi...market-listing

  8. #38
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    Jackie is key

    This follows up on what I was saying in my Karate Kid cover story: Is The Karate Kid a Kung Fu Dream? (2010 July/August)
    China's investment in silver screen
    2010-12-06 16:44


    Actors Jaden Smith (left) and Jackie Chan perform in a scene from the movie The Karate Kid. Mostly made in Beijing and produced by China Films and Sony's Columbia Pictures, the movie took box office receipts of more than US$356 million worldwide.

    =====================================

    By BAO CHANG
    China Daily
    Beijing, Monday 6 December 2010

    The movie tells a story about 13 women living alongside Qinhuai river in Nanjing who extricated their fellow countrymen from Japanese troops during World War II.

    But The 13 Women of Nanjing, Chinese arts guru Zhang Yimou's new work, is not a purely Chinese creation. The dialogue is in English, the star is a Hollywood celebrity and the technical know-how with which it is made comes from the US film industry.

    Zhang, China's most famous movie director, will name the movie's starring actor sometime in December. It is hoped the move will guarantee its entry into the US film market.

    Bringing in Hollywood actors is not the only way forward for Chinese film companies that want to explore oversea markets. Chinese firms are now speeding up their internationalisation and strengthening ties with their peers across the Pacific through direct investment in Hollywood, as the dream factory has seen financing from its home market drying up in recent years.

    New Pictures Film Co Ltd, the film-producing and distributing company, specialises in investing in the production of Zhang's movies, including The 13 Women of Nanjing. It has been reported by Chinese media that it may now buy stakes in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc (MGM) after the Hollywood film studio giant filed for bankruptcy in early November 2010 because of its inability to repay its US$4 billion debt.

    State-owned China Films Group Corporation contributed US$5 million early this year to help finance the remaking of The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, Hollywood movie star Will Smith's son.

    Mostly made in Beijing and produced by China Films and Sony's Columbia Pictures Industries Inc, the movie took receipts of more than US$356 million worldwide and China Films was given distribution rights for the movie in China and some other Asian countries in return for its investment.

    "A good combination between Chinese and Western modes can be an incentive to the development of the Chinese movie industry and will also give Chinese movies an international status," China Films said.

    On 26 September 2010, Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment, a Hong Kong-based film company, paid US$25 million for a 3.3% stake in Legendary Pictures, one of the largest film studios in the US.

    Shanghai Film Group Corporation (SFGC) also plans to acquire some cinemas in the east of the US, going abroad and choosing the biggest film market in the world as its first overseas development.

    "I have begun to negotiate with some companies in the east of the US about the acquisition of their cinemas," Ren Zhonglun told 21st Century Business Herald, adding that acquiring cinemas in the international market provides business opportunities for Chinese film companies who plan to develop abroad.

    China is now offering huge potential as a funding source for Hollywood, always a dream factory for movie fans across the world and powered by US moguls.

    "Chinese investors are very sophisticated and have been contemplating the kinds of investments they want to make," Bloomberg cited Charles Paul, a longtime Hollywood executive and an adviser to investment bank Centerview Partners, as saying.

    "Their activity may pick up as Chinese officials become more comfortable with the ways of Hollywood and the Chinese government hopes to gain the technical and creative know-how to build its film industry through investment," Paul said.

    The Poly Bona Film Group, China's biggest private movie distributor-turned-movie studio, has filed for a Nasdaq initial public offering seeking to raise US$80 million through the sale of its shares to US investors, papers filed in New York show.

    "We will witness better development if we strengthen the cooperation with foreign film studios at a time when the Chinese film industry is growing at a staggering rate," said Yu Dong, president of Poly Bona.

    Chinese investors in the film industry are expecting a good return from their partnership with foreign film studios because China will further open its entertainment market next year, according to World Trade Organisation regulations.

    In March 2011, the rule that limits the number of foreign films that can be shown in the domestic market every year to just 20 will be lifted.

    Zhao Rui, vice-president of Jackie Chan Cinema, jointly owned by the film star and Beijing Sparkle Roll International Cinemas Management Co, said: "If the Chinese film market can be more open, we will definitely take advantage of Jackie's network in Hollywood to expand our business in foreign markets."

    However, industry experts believe Chinese film companies should develop themselves more before offering huge capital just for a Hollywood ticket.

    "At present, most Chinese companies are not strong enough to meet market demand from Hollywood, where US film studios have their own operating rules, including capital operation, profit models, the film production and industry chain, all of which are different from those in the Chinese market," said Gao Jun, vice-general manager of New Film Association, one of China's largest film distributors.

    After news about the MGM bankruptcy emerged, not only New Pictures Company, but also the state-owned China Films and Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, were said to have bought a stake in the film studio as part of their efforts to enter the international film market.

    China Films is the largest film enterprise with a complete industry chain in the country and Huayi is the first listed film company in China.

    "None of these film companies is capable of acquiring all of MGM, because even the gross output value of China's film industry is not enough to pay the Hollywood studio's total debt," said Gao, of New Film Association.

    According to the China Film Producers Association (CFPA), takings hit 8 billion yuan for the first n9 months of this year and are set to reach more than 10 billion yuan for the whole year, a 60% increase compared with 2009.

    However, the MGM debt is $4 billion, nearly three times the expected box-office receipts of the emerging film market for the whole year.

    In the next three to four years the number of screens in China will increase to 13,000 from 8,000. The US has about 39,000 screens. China is also IMAX's fastest-growing market with 23 of the high-tech cinemas opened to date. Giant-screen movie technology company IMAX Corp has plans for more than 50 IMAX theaters by 2012 in China.

    In mid-June 2010, IMAX and Wanda Cinema Line Corporation, one of the fastest growing cinema chains in China, announced plans to add three additional IMAX systems, in the cities of Quanzhou, Wuhan and Dalian.

    Wanda Movie Theatre also plans to build more than 70 cinemas by the end of this year and make the total more than 120 by 2012, aiming to generate revenue of 3 billion yuan.

    "Apart from industry insiders, investors without industry background and professional knowledge have also streamed into film investment, creating haphazard competition within the industry," said Liu Debin, general manager of Poly Film Investment Co Ltd, the cinema branch of Poly Bona.

    According to Liu, investors from the coal industry in China are increasingly rushing to the film industry, in both domestic and foreign markets, in an attempt to get a cut of the profits brought by the fast growth of the industry.

    CFPA predicted that Chinese receipts will reach 40 billion yuan by 2015, making the country second only to the US.

    Foreign blockbusters are believed to be a catalyst for China's fast-growing box office receipts. James Cameron's Avatar accounted for 18% of China's total box office revenue for the first 9 months of this year, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

    "To be powerful in the international market, Chinese people should also make more of an investment in creating a storyline tailored to the tastes of global audiences instead of just the Chinese," said Zhang Jiarui, director of Distant Thunder, one of the most popular films at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

    Asia News Network
    Gene Ching
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  9. #39
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    Xi Jinping critical of kung fu films

    This could be a complete game changer for us.
    China film policy through new eyes
    By Patrick Frater
    Tue, 07 December 2010, 08:02 AM (HKT)
    Industry Rumour

    Is a change in Chinese film policy on the cards?

    One of the many strange and interesting stories to emerge from the recent Wikileaks revelations is the movie preferences of one of China's top leaders, Xi Jinping (習近平).

    Xi is widely tipped as one of the strongest candidates to take over as President of the country after Hu Jintao moves on in 2012 or 2013. Xi, Zhejiang Province Communist Party Secretary and now a Vice President, was quoted at length by US diplomats after a dinner in 2007. Conversation ranged from financial policy through to his film preferences.

    According to the confidential memo Xi said that he likes Hollywood war movies as he judged them more truthful than China's own film output and make clearer distinction between good and bad.

    Xi singled out film-making icon Zhang Yimou (張藝謀) and his Curse of the Golden Flower (滿城盡帶黃金甲) for individual criticism and expressed disapproval of the kung fu action genre in general.

    Instead Xi appeared to praise Jia Zhangke (賈樟柯), a film-maker who had previously worked outside China's system of censorship but who has in recent years partnered with government studios, courted mainstream media and is now developing his own big-budget historical epic with martial arts.

    Two complete paragraphs from the March 2007 report follow (Chinese characters added by Film Business Asia):

    "The (US) Ambassador also asked Secretary Xi about his recent movie viewing, recalling that Xi had told him in their meeting one year ago that he had recently seen and tremendously enjoyed Saving Private Ryan. Had Secretary Xi seen other recent American movies that he had enjoyed? Xi replied that he already owns the Flags of Our Fathers¯ DVD, but hopes to view it during the Lunar New Year holidays had gone unfulfilled. He had seen and enjoyed The Departed.¯ Xi said he particularly likes Hollywood movies about World War II and hopes Hollywood will continue to make them. Hollywood makes those movies well, and such Hollywood movies are grand and truthful. Americans have a clear outlook on values and clearly demarcate between good and evil. In American movies, good usually prevails. In contrast, Curse of the Golden Flower,¯ a recently popular Chinese movie directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li (鞏俐, she of Miami Vice¯ movie stardom) had been confusing to Xi. Some Chinese moviemakers neglect values they should promote.

    .A23. (C) America is a powerful nation in terms of culture because Americans say what they should say, Xi elaborated. Too many Chinese moviemakers cater to foreigners interests or preconceptions, sometimes vulgarly so. He criticized Zhang Yimou by name as well as the kungfu action movie genre. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍)¯ and Wu Jia and imperial palace intrigues — all are the same, talking about bad things in imperial palaces. Most are not nominated for Oscars or other awards, so to some extent it can be said that such movies are not worth very much. The Ambassador noted that a Chinese film about HIV/AIDS orphans had just garnered the Oscar for best short documentary. Xi expressed awareness of the movie, noting that the director is a female overseas Chinese (but Xi never said whether he had seen that documentary). Xi recalled that a low cost, very good Chinese movie by the director Jia Zhangke (賈樟柯) had recently won a Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. Returning to Flags of Our Fathers,¯ Xi said he had come to understand that the flag raising on Iwo Jima did not mark the end of the battle. The Japanese were still in holes and caves and the battle continued. He expressed particular admiration for WWII movies set in the Pacific theater of operations and expressed a strong desire to visit Guadalcanal."
    Gene Ching
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  10. #40
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    doubtful considering kung fu action films, have a larger foreign audience and sale potential over chinese dramas and comedies. which really dont translate well to the western markets. so idk if itll be a game changer, maybe but $$ talks. as we all know.

  11. #41
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    I wonder what Xi will think of the upcoming Red Dawn remake?

  12. #42
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    Legend of Mulan

    I guess we'll have to start a thread on Z's new project
    Banking on blockbusters
    * Source: Global Times
    * [09:06 December 14 2010]
    By Chen Yang



    When Hollywood films are seeing increasing box office revenues in China, Americans seem largely unaware of China's film industry except for a few famous names such as Zhang Ziyi and Jackie Chan.

    Bona Film Group, a Chinese film distributor, made its debut on the Nasdaq Thursday. However, the company's stock price slumped 22.35 percent to $6.6 from its $8.5 IPO price on the first trading day.

    As China's first film company to go public in the US, Bona's experience was in contrast to its competitor Huayi Brothers Media Corp, whose shares increased by nearly 150 percent to 63.66 yuan ($9.56) the day it debuted on China's Nasdaq-style growth enterprise board market last October.

    Looking longterm

    "It might take more time for US investors to understand our business better, as there are some differences between film industries in China and the US," said Xu Liang, Bona's chief financial officer, in a telephone interview Thursday. "We look for a long-term return on investment for our shareholders."

    Xu said Bona plans to expand overseas distribution channels for Chinese-made films, as well as cooperate with foreign studios to produce films. Its latest movie, co-produced with a Canadian company, is a 3D English film Legend of Mulan, with Dutch director Jan de Bont and Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi as Mulan.

    "Co-production will enable the film to have significant box office appeal for the US audiences, and help us gain distribution rights in China," he said, adding that in China only State-owned film companies have distribution rights for imported films, while co-produced films can be treated as domestic ones.

    Xu is optimistic about Bona's growth prospects based on China's booming film market. "Cinema visits per year per person is only 0.3 in China, while this figure is 4.3 in the US," he said. "If every Chinese goes to cinema one time every year, China will become the world's second largest film market with annual ticket sales of 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion)."

    Box office sales up

    China's box office revenues totaled 8.7 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) as of November 30 this year, according to EntGroup, an entertainment consultant in Beijing. Several films shown in December, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Sacrifice, are still boosting ticket sales.

    EntGroup earlier estimated domestic box office revenues will hit 10.3 billion yuan ($1.55 billion) this year, a 65 percent year-on-year growth, mainly boosted by imported blockbusters Avatar and Inception, as well as the Chinese-made film Aftershock.

    "If the growth rate can keep around 40-50 percent, China will likely to jump from the sixth to the No.2 spot in the world by box office revenues next year," said Gao Shouzhi, EntGroup's vice president.

    But the number of viewers has not grown as fast as box office revenues. Mao Yu, an official within the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, said earlier that the number of moviegoers visiting theaters was around 200 million as of October, the same level as all of last year.

    As the inflation continues to rise, analysts doubt consumers will pay to watch films due to high ticket prices. The average ticket price is around 36 yuan ($5.40) in China, accounting for 2.5 percent of urban residents' disposal income every month, while the percentage is only 0.5 in developed countries, said a report released by Deloitte Consulting earlier this year.

    Investors interested

    However, the film industry's high growth rate has attracted investors. Coalmine owners, property developers, Wenzhou merchants and private equity funds managers are reportedly ready to step into the film sector.

    "Investment mainly goes into film production and theatre building sectors, as their entry barriers are relatively lower than that of the distribution sector," said Gao from EntGroup.

    In China, normally theaters take half of the box office revenues, film producers take 40 percent and film distributors the remaining 10 percent.

    But the film industry might not be as profitable as outsiders think. "Producing films is high risk ... while building theatres is an investment that will take 4-5 years to recover costs," he said.

    China produced 456 films last year, and about 300 films were shown on the big screen. Some films apparently get rejected by movie theater owners for poor quality, while others lack big name actors or directors.

    "If the average investment on a film is 5 million yuan ($751,000), then producers lost about 1 billion yuan ($150.2 million) in total," said Xue Shengwen, an entertainment industry analyst from Shenzhen Zhongzhe Investment Consulting. "With an increasing number of modern theaters emerging around the country, more domestic films will have the chance to be shown," Gao said.

    Spin-off products lacking

    Industry watchers say Chinese film companies rely too much on box office revenues. "Earnings from box office make up more than 70-80 percent of a film's total revenues in China," Gao said. "While ticket sales only account for less than 30 percent in Hollywood film productions, the others mainly come from selling derivative products."

    Xu from Bona said revenues from television royalties, new media and home video products only account for 7-10 percent of their total revenues.

    "China lags so far behind the US, especially in developing film derivative products," said Wu Jun, president of Shanghai Movie Shine Entertainment Merchandising, who has launched a retail chain selling film memorabilia since 2002.

    But the business has not run as well as Wu expected. "We opened more than 20 stores in movie theatres around 2005, but most didn't make money," he said, adding that he only keeps two stores running in Shanghai now.

    Wu said local film producers have not focused much on exploring film spin-off products.

    "We mainly sell imported film memorabilia ... but high prices prevent audiences from buying and some would rather buy unlicensed ones," he said.

    Gao said China's film industry chain has not fully matured compared with the Hollywood model.

    "Lack of talents and rampant piracy hinder the development of film derivative products," he said.

    Wu is now turning to the online game sector, but he still waits for the opportunity.

    "China's film derivative product market will grow up one day, when film producers become familiar with marketing and audiences become accustomed to paying for more than a film ticket," he said.
    Gene Ching
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  13. #43
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    China Daily's Top 10 for 2010

    There are pics with each film but I'm too lazy to cut & paste them here. Follow the link if you want to see.
    Movies for keeps
    By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)
    Updated: 2010-12-28 08:04

    The year has seen Chinese cinema mature with films that have not just performed well but pushed the boundaries in terms of plot and execution. Raymond Zhou picks the top 10.

    Chinese cinema is expected to pass a milestone in 2010. Its gross box-office revenue is likely to be more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) for the first time (counting just the mainland). That's roughly the same as the US box office in dollar terms. If you factor in the currency disparity, per-capita, consumption and the ancillary market such as television and DVD rights, it is still minuscule, but hints at the vast potential that has been tapped into seriously only in the past five years.In terms of the quality of offerings, Chinese cinema has always been the target of public ridicule. Simply put, it is an industry people love to hate and yet cannot stop talking about. This year, diversity has taken reign and big-budget period dramas with their all-too-familiar sequences of kungfu fighting have given way to a rich crop of genres, some hard to categorize. Whatever your taste, you will find something to your fancy. The following are 10 feature films our editors consider worth recommending.

    Let the Bullets Fly

    This is a year when China's triumvirate of top filmmakers (Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Feng Xiaogang) all had new releases, but were upstaged by someone who calls himself "an amateur".

    Jiang Wen is an actor-turned-director and has made only four full-length features since 1994. But the scarcity of his output correlates with high quality.

    His new movie (pictured above), set in the early 20th century, is a fast-paced heist movie. Well, "heist" could be a misnomer because the coveted object is the position of a county magistrate and all the loot it comes with. It also has the feel of a western when scenes move outside the county town.

    Jiang has a sense of humor that's not just black, but pitch dark. Many of the lines have layers of meaning, which may yield contradictory interpretations. His subtle use of anachronism and the symbolic meaning of many scenes and props have become an object of cinephile obsession. All actors are perfectly cast.

    Movies for keeps

    Monga

    Gangster movies have been done to death in Hong Kong. So, when Taiwan's Doze Niu tried his hand at this hoary genre, nobody expected him to breathe new life into it. The story is predictable, but the way he tells it, with a refreshingly good-looking young cast, has turned heads and created a box-office bonanza.

    Though not shown officially in the mainland, the movie has strong word-of-mouth and was avidly downloaded and watched. Essentially this is a coming-of-age story framed in a gangster narrative. The chase and fight sequences exude a vim and vigor that's more musical than a crime spree. The theme of bonding has a sincerity reminiscent of a good love story.

    Movies for keeps

    Echoes of the Rainbow

    This intimate story of a Hong Kong family struggling through the 1960s and 70s is a microcosm of the British colony and its Chinese inhabitants on the verge of an economic miracle.

    Based on the family history of writer-director Alex Law, it is full of bittersweet details. Simon Yam and Sandra Ng deliver top-notch performances of restraint and refinement.

    Movies for keeps

    Deep in the Clouds

    This small movie has not had a wide release yet, though it won several accolades at the Shanghai Film Festival. It is about a mountain village caught between the need to protect the eco-system with its black bears and the yearning for a better life.

    Using locals who had barely seen a movie and an ethnic language not even understood by the director, the movie has an authenticity and also a lyrical beauty rarely seen in a message film.

    Movies for keeps

    Aftershock

    Book-ended by two major earthquakes, beginning with the Tangshan earthquake of 1976 and ending with the one in Sichuan in 2008, this is supposed to be a disaster film, but Feng Xiaogang mustered the courage to turn it into a family drama of love and generational misunderstanding.

    Perhaps it is easier to approach the movie as a Chinese equivalent of Sophie's Choice. There are details in the movie about survivors hardly known to outsiders, such as the annual ritual of burning paper in the early morning of the anniversary of the loved one's death. Xu Fan's performance packs a punch in portraying a survivor's guilt and the love of a mother under life-and-death circumstances.

    Movies for keeps

    Lost on Journey

    This little comedy could have been inspired by Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a Steve Martin laugh fest about the trials and tribulations of a journey back home. The Chinese version consists of uniquely Chinese situations, with the duo of comedians representing two halves of society.

    The movie is perfectly paced, with plenty of comic chops to keep one laughing. It also has a heart that goes to those less fortunate. While all ends well, the journey is symbolic on a certain level of what the country is going through on the whole.

    Movies for keeps

    Vegetate

    This is social realism at its most critical, the kind of movie enshrined in Chinese textbooks yet rarely seen on the big screen. This sharp criticism of China's pharmaceuticals industry, which churns out so many products you'd wonder if there is any testing or inspection, is built on a series of twists and turns that's melodramatic on the surface yet hint at inner truth.

    A worthy follower of Julia Roberts' Erin Brokovich or Russell Crowe's The Insider, Vegetate falls short on casting and the absence of star power hinders its box-office performance.

    Movies for keeps

    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

    This lavishly produced whodunit shows China during its most extravagant period, the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-906), with the sole female ruler in its history, Empress Wu Zetian, on the throne. The intricate plot keeps the audience on edge and the starry cast is matched by the mammoth but ingeniously conceived set.

    It is a Chinese response to the new Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr., but Detective Dee, though a historical figure, was mostly created by a European sinologist. So, cross-cultural influences go to the very root of this action suspense thriller.

    Movies for keeps

    The War of Internet Addiction

    This is not a theatrical release, but an online feature made by maneuvering visual elements in games, but with an original storyline and dialogue dubbed by people all over the Net.

    But the movie is more than a technical feat. It gives voice to a huge swath of the online population whose frustrations at being cut off from their favorite online game has come to exemplify an age of angst and anger. The climax scene is so heartfelt it has the effect of a bolt of thunder.

    Movies for keeps

    Love in a Puff

    Pang Ho-Cheung captures the urban vibe in this quietly observant study of modern dating.

    The free-flowing plot is a reflection of a new generation with its laissez-faire attitude and hard-to-define notions about love.

    Movies for keeps

    Honorable mention:

    Avatar and Inception (pictured above) are not Chinese fare, yet their impact has gone beyond the film industry in China.

    The former has set a new box-office record that may take years to be surpassed and along with it, a new standard for technical excellence and imagination.

    The latter has kindled a public interest in dream interpretation, something Sigmund Freud never achieved on such a scale among the Chinese populace.

    (China Daily 12/28/2010 page18)
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  14. #44
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    Odd article

    It just had to be posted here.
    China's Rise: The Kung Fu Film Version
    Judah Grunstein | Bio | 25 Jan 2011

    As a fundamental part of what I consider to be my parental duties, I've been broadening my son's already healthy exposure to kung fu movies over the past few months. And I'm repeatedly struck by how many insights they offer into the formative folklore that animates modern-day China. Like Westerns for America, they are heavy in caricatures and historic inaccuracies. But they also reflect, at times crudely and at others quite elegantly, Chinese culture's self-image and its view of the "other."

    So as much as I found last week's bilateral summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao dramatically overblown -- both are coming off lousy years, and neither exercises as much influence over policy outcomes as the media coverage suggests -- I thought the calm after the storm would be a good time to offer up what I think of as the Kung Fu Film Version of China's Rise.

    First up is the Bruce Lee classic, "Fists of Fury," which, for anyone unfamiliar with China's colonial past, gives a good idea of the degree to which the humiliations of the foreign concession period remain present in the modern collective imagination. In the film, the Japanese function as the hated occupier/oppressor in concession-period Shanghai. But the nature of the concession arrangement was such that it left plenty of resentment to go around. Unlike other countries, which experienced the oppression and humiliation of colonial occupation at the hands of one Western colonial power, China was partially partitioned among them all. What's more, its history of being occupied predates Western colonialism, with classics like "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" already dealing with the Manchu occupation. Many Americans don't realize that China's insistence on sovereignty and the ability to defend it -- i.e., its current military modernization program -- is driven not just by a desire to avoid accountability on its human rights record, but also by a centuries-long chip on its shoulder.

    Similar themes are treated in Jet Li's "Once Upon a Time in China," with the bad guy in this case represented by an American entrepreneur engaged in what amounts to human-trafficking of Chinese laborers for the construction of the railroads. The movie obliquely references the Chinese contribution to and underlying resentment of America's own rise. But its major theme is the country's introduction to modernism, and the complicated relationship that results. Jet Li's character is both a kung fu master and a practitioner of classical Chinese medicine, and the film protrays the sophistication of both. Nevertheless, the disdain with which Li initially greets such modern artefacts as the camera and the pants suit, brought back to China by Westernized Chinese, soon gives way to curiosity. By film's end, though Li emerges victorious, he is confronted with the tragic conclusion that the virtuosity of Chinese culture is no match for the brute force of Western guns. The solution -- as reflected by the contemporary Chinese approach to modernization but especially to military modernization -- is the famous "Chinese characteristics": the power of modern technology grafted onto the principles of classical Chinese strategic thinking. So area denial instead of forward positioning, and minimal nuclear deterrence instead of massive arsenals.

    The third film that struck me as being very relevant these days is "Hero," also with Jet Li. Besides a gripping story structure and fight scenes that integrate the fantastic without indulging in the cartoonish (the flaw that most purists will find with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), the film also illustrates Chinese conceptions of the trade-off between freedom and stability, and the delicate balance between concentrated power and tyranny. I won't go into any more detail, because it really is a film where the first viewing should be without spoilers, but suffice it to say that it reinforces a theme that Thomas P.M. Barnett frequently references -- namely, that China will democratize on China's schedule, not on America's.

    Finally, there's John Woo's recent magnum opus,"Red Cliff," whose French title is the more-accurate, "The Three Kingdoms." I wrote about it when I first saw it in the theater almost two years ago, in the context of American hubris in Iraq. It's essentially the story of how asymmetric tactics and classical strategies defeat a massively superior force equipped with more advanced firepower. At the time, I argued that it was a juxtaposition of America, post-Iraq, to America, pre-Iraq: the urge to empire against the defense of liberty. But my thinking today is that it reflects an unexplored alternative narrative to China's rise. The dominant narrative is that China's rise represents the emergence of a rival to the U.S. for global hegemony in the post-Cold War world order as conceived of by American strategists. By this thinking, the goal is to integrate China into the global governance system so that it becomes a "good citizen," ready to take up the security and stability responsibilities incumbent upon a hegemon. But "Red Cliff" suggests an alternative reading, whereby China is not interested in being a hegemon, but rather simply wants to pursue its national interests free from American and Western tutelage.

    That's actually reassuring, in the sense that it removes the kind of head-to-head rivalry that increasingly frames most American coverage of China's rise. But it's actually a bit more worrisome if you believe that America is in decline, and that the increasingly multipolar world order depends on the multilateral global governance system -- backed up by a global hegemon willing to enforce its rule sets -- to keep from falling into utter chaos.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #45
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    Time borrowed my story idea!

    Check out my January February 2011 Chollywood Rising column and compare.
    As Its Box Office Booms, Chinese Cinema Makes a 3-D Push
    By Hillary Brenhouse Monday, Jan. 31, 2011

    In the thick of a classical revival, when China's literati returned fawningly to ancient prose, the folk epic Journey to the West was published in the vernacular of the country's streets and market stalls. It was the 16th century, and so uneasy was the novel's author at having written it, as one modern scholar put it, "in the vulgar tongue" that he chose anonymity. In the few hundred years since, the Chinese masterwork has been adapted for theater, television and the big screen, including a particularly grandiose, costly new film to be released in 2012. The movie will appear in the contemporary language of the people: 3-D.

    China is in the throes of a cinematic growth spurt. Last year, box-office takings in the Middle Kingdom swelled 64% to reach an all-time high of $1.5 billion. At the source of the surge was James Cameron's sci-fi spectacular Avatar, which raked up over $205 million in China, or just under 10% of its global gross — a record for the country. The enormous success of the import has spurred on a burgeoning domestic industry. China rolled out 526 pictures last year — up 15% from 2009 — rendering it the third largest maker of movies after Bollywood and Hollywood. The standard for Chinese blockbusters has also shot up; this month Let the Bullets Fly became, with a haul of over $100 million, the most profitable homegrown film in the nation's history.

    The elements have aligned such that the development of China's 3-D movie market is rushing alongside its box-office boom. It's a fortunate confluence: as multiplexes are springing up in a dizzying infrastructure expansion, new cinematic technology and investor wealth are streaming in. It takes less than $60,000 to make 3-D-capable digital-projection systems of the kind China is now building. "Show one Avatar and you've made that sum back," says Hong Kong film producer and distributor Nansun Shi. In places with far longer cinematic traditions, retrofitting old theaters has been that much more pricey and time-consuming. China's Film Bureau reported in January that the country erected 313 theaters and 1,533 screens in 2010 for a total of over 6,200 screens. About 80% of those are digital and so far 1,100 of them 3-D-enabled, a number second only to the 6,000 or so 3-D screens in the U.S. Steeply priced 3-D tickets have, naturally, helped widen sales. But wider film sales — or rather the profusion of movie-house shrines being built to them — have also fueled the rise of 3-D.

    It is a cultural moment — and a commercial opportunity — not to be misspent. As Yu Dong, chief executive of leading Chinese production company Bona Film Group, lamented at June's Shanghai International Film Festival, "China has created a superhighway for 3-D films, but has so far left the lanes open only to Hollywood studios." One of the most highly attended seminars at that gathering considered how local filmmakers might respond to Avatar's overwhelming achievement. Not so long ago, audiences in China had to be briefed on how to wear their 3-D glasses. Now moviemakers are scrambling to deliver three-dimensional images to a nation delighting in its own modernity.

    But China's Avatar, should a domestic effort match that movie's success, will not look like Cameron's. As Shi says, "We don't do science fiction." Even when the packaging is of the cutting edge, Chinese pictures heave with history. Right now filming in a wintry Beijing, the $50 million 3-D feature Monkey King, by Hong Kong director Soi Cheang and featuring Chow Yun-fat, is based on an episode from that 16th century fable Journey to the West. The story is of a Chinese Buddhist monk sent, with a supernatural primate and other companions, to India in quest of religious scriptures. In a separate effort, Shi and her husband, the Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, are now shooting Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, a 3-D film starring Jet Li that is a remake of a martial-arts movie set in the Ming Dynasty. A new 3-D animation for release in July will pit an ancient rabbit in tai chi slippers against — what else? — a kung fu panda.

    Still, for all their nationalist vigor, these vast-budget ventures are reliant on foreign help. Local production teams are as yet unprepared to go it alone and, by Tsinghua University cinema scholar Yin Hong's estimate, will not arrive at America's current technological standards for another 10 years. "The 3-D generation is here," he says. "China is not ready, but we have to cope." Monkey King has imported the whole of Hollywood's tech force: for 3-D and IMAX effects, it will employ Avatar's production crew, and for special effects, the same Weta Workshop that enlivened the Lord of the Rings trilogy. "Not enough people in China are trained in 3-D and we don't have the experience to make a movie of Hollywood quality," says director Cheang. "For us, this is just the beginning. But in this market, you have to move fast."

    Local filmmakers are hoping to learn from the hired help to imbue their movies with that immersive, Avatar-esque quality that is so well suited to China's majestic period pieces. Now is as crucial a time as any: in mid-March, by a World Trade Organization ruling, China will further open its film market to foreign flicks and a wave of fresh competition. "It's not about the money," Shi says of the country's cinematic belatedness. "It's about a knowledge base that cannot be built up overnight. In America, the role of film has been completely different than it has been here." In other words, now that China speaks the language, it has quite a lot of reading to do.
    Actually, the 3D push is pretty obvious for anyone watching Chollywood now, so I'm not accusing Brenhouse of plagiary at all. If anything, I'm just boasting about being ahead of TIME on this one. It's not often I can say that. Actually, it's never happened before. Subscribe now and get a jump on TIME. I'm just sayin....
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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