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Thread: The Eight Hundred

  1. #1
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    The Eight Hundred

    Cannes: Huayi Brothers' Chinese War Epic 'The Eight Hundred' Sells Wide
    5:00 PM PDT 5/13/2019 by Patrick Brzeski


    Huayi Brothers Media
    'The Eight Hundred'

    The big-budget epic features action scenes designed by Hollywood veteran Glen Boswell and is hoping to do for the war epic in China what local blockbuster 'The Wandering Earth' did for sci-fi.
    China's hotly anticipated World War II epic The Eight Hundred has sold to multiple territories around the world, including North America.

    Directed by Guan Hu and produced by veteran Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media, The Eight Hundred is being pitched to buyers at the Cannes Film Market as China's first big-budget, grippingly realistic war epic.

    The producers are hoping the film will do for the war movie in China what local blockbuster The Wandering Earth ($780 million) did for the sci-fi genre earlier this year — set a new standard for production quality while making a bundle at the box office.

    Huayi Brothers launched sales on the film at Berlin's European Film Market in February. So far, it has sold theatrical rights to the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CMC Pictures, which also distributed The Wandering Earth in the U.S.); South Korea (First Run), Germany (Koch), the U.K. (Trinity), Singapore and Brunei (Shaw); Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos (GSC); and worldwide in-flight (Emphasis).

    The film is set to open in China on July 5, in the thick of summer blockbuster season. Most of the international territories sold so far are lined up for day-and-date theatrical releases with China, or not far behind. Huayi Brothers is expecting to close out remaining territories during the Cannes film market.

    The Eight Hundred is said to have a production budget in excess of $80 million — which sits at the very upper end in China, where the industry remains nonunionized and production costs run much lower than in Hollywood.


    Huayi Brothers Media

    The film is already generating buzz in Beijing among local producers and executives who have viewed early cuts. The most common comparison has been that the film is like "China's answer to Dunkirk."

    The Eight Hundred was already underway before the release of Christopher Nolan's impressionistic WWII film, but the Huayi Brothers project does bear some similarities to Dunkirk — both in its realistic approach to action and that its story focuses on a heroic sacrifice and retreat rather than a decisive victory.

    The film is based on a pivotal battle in 1937 during the Sino-Japanese war: the historic siege and defense of the Si Hang Warehouse in Shanghai. This brutal, merciless encounter marked the last stand of the Chinese forces in the Battle of Shanghai and ended with the Japanese occupation of China's most cosmopolitan city. About 400 fighters, an unlikely mix of soldiers, deserters and civilians who, as the story turned to legend, became known as the “Eight Hundred Heroes," held out against waves of Japanese forces for four days and four nights in order to cover for China's principal forces, which retreated west to protect the country's heartland during the next phase of aggression.

    The film features an ensemble cast of — in order of appearance — Ou Hao, Wang Qianyuan, Jiang Wu, Zhang Yi, Du Chun, Wei Chen, Tang Yixin, Li Chen, Liang Jing, Ethan Ruan, Liu Xiaoqing, Yao Chen, Zheng Kai, and Huang Xiaoming.

    On the production side, Eight Hundred continues the recent trend of big-budget Chinese films hiring Hollywood veterans to collaborate alongside local technical staff. The key production team includes: Chinese cinematographer Cao Yu (Nanking Nanking), production designer Lin Mu (Design of Death), sound designer Fu Kang (Summer Palace), American action director Glenn Boswell (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix), Australian Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Crosbie (X-Men: Days of Future Past), and original music by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Andrew Kawczynski, both past Hans Zimmer collaborators. Italian singer Andrea Bocelli is recording the film's theme song.

    Director Guan's most recent release was the gritty crime drama Mr. Six (2005), which became a sleeper hit for Huayi Brothers, earning $137 million in China. The film closed the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in an out-of-competition screening.
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  2. #2
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    S.i.f.f. 2019

    Shanghai Festival to Open With WWII Epic 'The Eight Hundred,' Wu Jing to Serve as Ambassador
    1:38 AM PDT 6/4/2019 by Patrick Brzeski


    Huayi Brothers Media
    'The Eight Hundred'

    Notably, given Donald Trump's ongoing U.S.-China trade war, not a single film from North America is included in the Chinese festival's main competition sections this year.
    The Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), China's most established cinema event, has unveiled the opening titles and competition selection for its 2019 edition.

    The festival will kick off on June 15 with a double bill of Chinese WWII epic The Eight Hundred and local drama Beautiful Voyage from filmmaker Zhang Jiarui.

    Landing The Eight Hundred as an opener is something of a coup for the Shanghai event. The film, produced by Huayi Brothers with a lavish budget of over $80 million, is the first Chinese action film shot entirely on Imax cameras, and it is expected to become one of the country's biggest event movies of the summer when it opens wide on July 5.

    Chinese action hero Wu Jing, star of Chinese mega-blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, will bring the star power to Shanghai's opening red carpet, serving as the event's official 2019 ambassador. English actor Tom Hiddleston, already well known to local filmgoers as Loki from the Avengers franchise, will help wrap up the festivities by attending the closing ceremony on June 24.

    Other stars slated to walk the carpet and participate in SIFF events include X-Men star Nicholas Hoult, Milla Jovovich, Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin, Japanese stars Ayaka Miyoshi and Mao Inoue, and a slew of Chinese talent, including actresses Yao Chen, Ni Ni, Deng Jiajia, Zhou Dongyu and Yong Mei.

    Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of the 2014 Cannes Palme d’Or, is presiding over the jury that will decide the winners of SIFF's annual Golden Goblet Awards.

    Ceylan is joined on the jury by Chinese actress Zhao Tao, Italian director Paolo Genovese (whose 2016 film Perfect Strangers was remade as Chinese thriller Kill Mobile, earning $93 million last year), Russia’s Aleksey German Jr. (director of the period biopic Dovlatov), Indian hitmaker Rajkumar Hirani (3 Idiots), Mexican producer Nicolas Celis (Roma) and Chinese actor Wang Jingchun (winner of this year's Berlin Silver Bear for best actor).

    Shanghai's competition lineup includes a broad sampling of world cinema, with a discernible emphasis on filmmaking from countries located along Chinese president Xi Jinping's geopolitical Belt and Road infrastructure and soft-power project. Notably, given the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and controversy over Canada's arrest of a top executive from Huawei, not a single film from North America made Shanghai's selection this year — a sharp contrast from recent years.

    Main competition titles include Russian director Pavel Lungin's war drama Leaving Afghanistan (also known as Brother), Iranian film Castle of Dreams, German family drama Many Happy Returns, Chinese crime film Vortex and Mexican actor Gael García Bernal's directorial debut Chicuarotes, which recently bowed at Cannes (the full SIFF competition lineup is below).

    The festival's Asian New Talent Awards, which honor emerging film professionals from the region, will be handed out by a jury headed by Chinese star director Ning Hao (Crazy Alien).

    SIFF's documentary and animation sections (see lineups below), meanwhile, will be assessed by juries lead by Russian director Viktor Kossakovsky (Aquarela) and Irish filmmaker Tomm Moore (The Breadwinner, The Secret of Kells), respectively.

    Altogether, SIFF will screen approximately 500 films across its key competition categories, country specific sidebars and historical retrospectives. Festival organizers said they received more than 3,900 film submissions from 112 countries and regions this year. Local state media were keen to note that nearly half of the applications, over 1,800 titles from 53 countries, came from countries and territories participating in Xi's Belt and Road Initiative.

    Below is the Shanghai festival's lineup.

    Main Competition Section

    BROTHERHOOD (Russia), by Pavel Lungin

    CASTLE OF DREAMS (Iran), by Reza Mirkarimi

    CHICUAROTES (Mexico), by Gael García Bernal

    THE GREAT SPIRIT (Italy), by Sergio Rubini

    INHALE-EXHALE (Georgia/ Russia/ Sweden),by Dito Tsintsadze

    LANE 4 (Brazil), by Emiliano Cunha

    LITTLE NIGHTS, LITTLE LOVE (Japan), by Rikiya Imaizumi

    MANY HAPPY RETURNS (Germany), by Carlos A. Morelli

    PACARRETE (Brazil), by Allan Deberton

    THE RETURN (China), by QIN Hailu

    ROSA (Italy/ Slovenia), by Katja Colja

    SHYRAKSHY: GUARDIAN OF THE LIGHT (Kazakhstan), by Yermek Tursunov

    SPRING TIDE (China), by YANG Lina

    TREES UNDER THE SUN (India) by Dr. Biju

    VORTEX (China), by Jacky Gan

    Documentary Film Section

    BRIDGES OF TIME (Latvia/ Lithuania/ Estonia), By Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys

    THE FOURTH KINGDOM (Spain), by Adán Aliaga and Àlex Lora

    IT'S ALL GOOD (Venezuela / Germany) by Tuki Jencquel

    MUTE FIRE (Colombia), by Federico Arteaga

    THE SOUND OF DALI (China), by ZHANG Yang

    Animation Film Section

    DILILI IN PARIS (France / Belgium / Germany), by Michel Ocelot)

    LOTTE AND THE LOST DRAGONS (Estonia), by Janno Põldma

    LOUIS AND LUCA – MISSION TO THE MOON (Norway), by Rasmus A. Sivertsen

    RIDE YOUR WAVE (Japan), by Masaaki Yuasa

    SPYCIES (China), by ZHANG Zhiyi and Guillaume Ivernel
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    Sff - 800 = ?

    JUNE 14, 2019 3:41AM PT
    Shanghai Film Festival Abruptly Pulls Opening Film ‘The Eight Hundred’
    By PATRICK FRATER
    Asia Bureau Chief


    CREDIT: BAI XIAOYAN/HUAYI BROS.

    The Shanghai Film Festival has abruptly yanked its opening movie, the $80 million patriotic war drama “The Eight Hundred,” on the eve of the fest’s kickoff, Variety has confirmed.

    The cancellation of the Saturday premiere was made for unspecified “technical reasons,” which is often a euphemism for censorship problems, although a source close to the project told Variety that that is not the issue in this case and that the film had successfully passed the content censorship stage. “Technical reasons” were also cited in the withdrawal of Zhang Yimou’s “One Second” from the Berlin Film Festival in February.

    While Chinese authorities have withdrawn films from other film festivals – two were pulled from the Berlinale, including “One Second” – it’s unusual for a Chinese-made film to be yanked from a Chinese festival.

    “The Shanghai International Film Festival opening film screening of ‘The Eight Hundred’ originally planned for June 15 has been canceled due to technical reasons,” the festival said. “For the inconvenience this brings to all the guests and media, we respectfully hope you can understand and hope everyone will continue to support us.”

    “The Eight Hundred,” from well-established studio Huayi Bros., is directed by Guan Hu (“Mr. Six”) and centers on the sacrifice of a ragtag group of Chinese soldiers in 1937 Shanghai as imperial Japanese troops advanced. The theme would appear to be in keeping with the patriotic message that the Beijing regime wants to promulgate this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

    But the source close to the film said that “The Eight Hundred” might have fallen victim to political concerns not directly related to censorship – namely, the Chinese government’s wish not to antagonize Japan at the moment. The two countries are currently on good terms even as China and the U.S., Japan’s main ally, escalate their trade war.

    “The Eight Hundred” was expected to have been a showcase for China’s growing filmmaking prowess. Among several firsts, it is the first film to have been substantially shot with Imax digital cameras. The technical crew on the film features a mixed Chinese and international team, including Chinese cinematographer Cao Yu (“Kekexili,” “Legend of the Demon Cat”), American action director Glenn Boswell (“The Matrix,” “I, Robot”), original music by the U.K.’s Rupert Gregson-Williams (“The Crown,” “Aquaman,” “Wonder Woman”), and Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Crosbie (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”) of Australia.

    “The Eight Hundred” has been picked up for North America by CMC Pictures in a deal announced at Cannes. It has also sold to several other Asian countries, and to the U.K. and Germany. After its Shanghai festival screening, it was due to be released in Chinese theaters July 5.
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  4. #4
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    rivals not sufficiently negative...

    Sux for the filmmakers.

    ASIA JUNE 15, 2019 5:11PM PT
    Chinese Research Group May Have Caused Cancellation of ‘The Eight Hundred’ Premiere

    By REBECCA DAVIS
    Rebecca Davis


    CREDIT: COURTESY OF HUAYI BROS.

    Chinese authorities may have abruptly yanked the $80 million patriotic war epic “The Eight Hundred” the day before its opening-night premiere at the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival because it didn’t portray rivals of the ruling Communist Party in a sufficiently negative light, local reports said.

    Huayi Bros., which produced the film, had on Friday attributed the cancellation of the film’s Saturday evening premiere to “technical reasons.” That term has quickly become a euphemism for Chinese government interference.

    But numerous Chinese-language reports speculate that the real cause might be gleaned from recent statements delivered by the China Red Culture Research Assn. The group of Communist Party-minded scholars and experts met in Beijing last Sunday and collectively deemed that “it would be very inappropriate to use ‘The Eight Hundred’ as a tribute to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China” this year, the group’s vice president, Hu Cheng, was quoted in numerous WeChat posts as saying.

    The film tells the story of Chinese soldiers who defended a warehouse for four days in a 1937 incident during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Their operations were once praised by Mao Zedong himself as a “classic example of national revolution.”

    Yet association members said the film mis-stepped in its portrayal of the rival Kuomintang Party, which ruled China until it lost the civil war against the Communists in 1949 and fled to Taiwan. The two parties continue to dispute their respective roles in fighting the Japanese.

    In the most illuminating statement, the research association’s secretary general, Wang Benzhou, criticized the film by saying: “The class oppression within the ranks of the Kuomintang army, the misdeeds of its officers and its evil oppression of the people have disappeared without a trace, making it seem that the Kuomintang army was the real people’s army.”

    He added: “The seriousness of the problem has gone far beyond the scope of literature and art; it is a reversal of history, and misleads the audience. If left unchecked, it will certainly deprive the entire Communist Party of its historical basis. Once the Party’s leadership is lost, the Chinese nation is bound to fall into the deep, miserable abyss of colonized and semi-colonized countries.”

    Of particular concern was the epic’s climax, which apparently depicts a touching scene where the soldiers defend the Kuomintang flag on the warehouse roof. The film “shouldn’t so enthusiastically declare the ‘dignity’ and ‘sacredness’ of the Kuomintang flag. Whether or not it’s intentional, if we do that, we hurt the Chinese people, especially the soldiers who gave their lives to build the new China,” said group member Guo Songmin, a former air force lieutenant and film critic.

    The upcoming 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic, in October, is of huge importance to the Communist Party, and is already being accompanied by heightened censorship and propaganda pushes. “They aren’t going to take chances this year, especially with the 70th coming up,” said Beijing-based historian Jeremiah Jenne. “Even things that seem relatively innocuous, or even beneficial, are going to get closer scrutiny, with the attitude being, ‘If there are any chances at all that it could backfire, let’s postpone it until a different time.’”

    He added that “modern history in particular is a tricky minefield because it relates so closely to the party’s own history, mythology and legacy, so they tend to be more sensitive about that.”

    While there is no hard evidence that the association’s opinions are the cause of the film’s canceled premiere, the group’s stance likely echoes that of the Party’s Propaganda Bureau, which since last year has taken over as China’s top film censorship authority, dictating what can be shown when.

    “The Eight Hundred” was positioned as one of the summer’s major blockbusters, with a July 5 debut in both China and the U.S. and local media predictions of more than $215 million (RMB1.5 billion) at the box office. The sudden cancellation has raised concerns among online commentators that the film may not be allowed a theatrical release at all – even though the Chinese box office is currently suffering from a lack of strong local product, thanks to a severe production slowdown.

    That would be a heavy blow to Huayi, which has already suffered multiple setbacks in the past year and incurred losses of $158 million (RMB1.09 billion).

    The firm appears to have been caught totally unaware by the cancellation. On Friday, when the film was pulled, the company’s WeChat account went about business as usual, promoting it proudly as “an epic work that reflects the national spirit and extols our national heroes.”

    On Thursday, the day before, Huayi co-chairman and co-founder Wang Zhongjun increased his personal stake in the company by buying an additional $14.4 million (RMB100 million) in shares.
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  5. #5
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    cancelled

    JUNE 25, 2019 7:46AM PT
    Already Pulled From Shanghai Festival, ‘The Eight Hundred’ Cancels Its China Release

    By HENRY CHU and REBECCA DAVIS


    CREDIT: BAI XIAOYAN/HUAYI BROS.

    Already pulled from its prestigious spot as the opener of the Shanghai International Film Festival, war epic “The Eight Hundred” has been dealt a further below with the cancellation of its scheduled release in China next week.

    In a terse announcement on its official Weibo account, the film said late Tuesday that, “after consultation between the production team and other entities, ‘The Eight Hundred’ will cancel its original July 5 premiere and temporarily vacate the summer release date window. The new release date will be announced at a later time.”

    The statement gave no indication as to what occasioned the cancellation. But China is undergoing a period of strong social and cultural tightening, and Chinese film censors have been especially active lately in ordering changes to films or yanking them from festivals and the domestic release schedule.

    Besides “The Eight Hundred’s” announcement, an upcoming film whose original Chinese title translates to “Mighty Wishes” announced Tuesday that it would change its title “due to market demands” to “Tiny Little Wishes.” The slogan on the film’s poster was adjusted from “Having your wishes fulfilled” to “Tiny wishes can also be mighty.” And a TV adaptation of a work by Guo Jingming said it was being renamed “The Flow of Beautiful Times” instead of “A Flowing River of Sadness.”

    And on Monday, the Chinese youth drama “Better Days” said it would no longer hit Chinese theaters on Thursday as planned. “Better Days” had already been withdrawn at the last minute from the Berlin Film Festival in February, a fate that also befell Zhang Yimou’s “One Second.”

    “The whole world is moving forward, while Chinese cinema is heading backward,” lamented one of the top comments on “The Eight Hundred’s” Weibo site, on the announcement of the canceled release.

    Directed by Guan Hu and produced by Huayi Bros., “The Eight Hundred” tells the true story of a ragtag band of soldiers who attempted heroically to hold off imperial Japanese troops in 1937. Made on a budget of $80 million, the action film has been touted as a symbol of China’s growing filmmaking powers, and boasts a storyline that would seem in sync with the Chinese government’s emphasis on patriotism ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic in October.

    But days before the movie was to screen in Shanghai, a cultural research group criticized it as being too charitable in its depiction of China’s Nationalists, who fought side by side with the Communists against the Japanese but then were driven out of China by the Communists in an ensuing civil war.

    “We have to make some changes,” a Huayi Bros. spokesman told Variety. “We are still working on getting it out this year.”

    Patrick Frater contributed to this report.
    so much for that $80M...
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    White Storm 2: The Drug Lords dethrones in PRC

    Didn't see that one coming. We don't have a thread on White Storm. Anyone see either of these?

    ASIA JULY 8, 2019 12:35AM PT
    China Box Office: ‘White Storm 2’ Dominates as ‘Spider-Man’ Loses Grip
    By REBECCA DAVIS


    CREDIT: COURTESY OF UNIVERSE INTERNATIONAL HOLDINGS

    The Andy Lau- and Louis Koo-starring Hong Kong action film “White Storm 2: The Drug Lords” was the third highest grossing film in the world this weekend thanks to a strong $62.4 million China opening. It far outstripped other Chinese and U.S. content in Chinese theaters.

    Directed by Herman Yau and produced by Lau, the film tells the story of the chaos that ensues after a former triad member turned philanthropist offers a large bounty in exchange for the life of Hong Kong’s top drug dealer. Though it shares a name with 2013’s “The White Storm,” which also starred Louis Koo, it is a standalone story. That earlier film was directed by Benny Chan and went on to earn around $35 million (RMB238 million) in China.

    This installment’s three-day haul more than doubled the second weekend performance of Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which came in second with $29.8 million, according to data from Artisan Gateway. The weekend haul was down 69% from its opening session. Nevertheless, the web-slinging hero has rapidly brought in a total of $166 million at the China box office, making the Jon Watts-directed feature the third highest-grossing Hollywood studio film so far this year in the mega-territory.

    Both films benefited from the absence of “The Eight Hundred,” a blockbuster war-action film from Huayi Brothers. The film was scheduled to have released this weekend, but it was abruptly pulled from its opening slot at the Shanghai festival last month and halted before it got to commercial theaters after being criticized by an influential Communist think tank.

    Other top films this weekend were mostly animated titles. Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2” ranked third in China with a $10.3 million debut — putting it roughly on par with the China debut of “Toy Story 4,” which underperformed against expectations late last month with an opening weekend of just $13.2 million. The first film in the “Pets” franchise hit Chinese theaters in 2016 and made $58.3 million.

    Studio Ghibli’s nearly 20-year-old animated “Spirited Away” continued to hold its own, coming in fourth at the box office with $4.2 million. It has now earned a cumulative $65.5 million in China, more than double the $25.2 million “My Neighbor Totoro” — another beloved Hayao Miyazaki-helmed classic — earned when it was released theatrically there in December.

    Chinese animated feature “Lolipop in Fantasy” took in $3.1 million in its opening weekend, edging it ahead of Toy Story 4, which made just $1.03 million (RMB7.06 million). The Disney/Pixar sequel has made a cumulative total of $28.2 million (RMB193 million) so far — putting it not that much further ahead than the $17.1 million (RMB117 million) score gross of “Toy Story 3,” which came out nearly a decade ago at a time when China’s theatrical market was far smaller and less developed.
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  7. #7
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    rumors of war...

    Will China Release Huayi Brothers’ ‘Eight Hundred’ Soon?
    BY CHINAFILMINSIDERDEC 17, 2019



    Recently, there are rumors that the previously cancelled war epic film Eight Hundred, directed by Guan Hu, will be released at Chinese multiplexes this December. According to an article published by Wechat media account dianyingqingbaochu, Eight Hundred might come to theater as China is urgently in need of boosting the total box office of 2019. As of December 16, this year’s total box office earnings has exceeded last year’s RMB 61 billion yet hasn’t reached the goal of RMB 65 billion. Therefore, China had taken measures to maximize the 2019 box office performance since late November. For instance, Jumanji: The Next Level opened two weeks earlier than its original release date. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is also rescheduled to open on December 18. Local films, such as Sheep Without A Shepherd and Only Cloud Knows, also got early releases or arranged nationwide sneak preview screenings. In addition, at least four buyout foreign films will open in December. Therefore, Eight Hundred, as a highly anticipated film with great box office potential, might be allowed to eventually release this year to ensure box office growth.
    Wait...Never mind the 800. PRC is getting Skywalker today, a day before us?
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    Aug 21

    Aug 2, 2020 5:02am PT
    ‘The Eight Hundred’ Controversial War Film Finally Given China Release Date
    By Patrick Frater


    The Eight Hundred (The 800)
    Bai Xiaoyan/Huayi Bros.

    Delayed by over a year for mysterious political reasons, epic Chinese war film “The Eight Hundred” has finally locked down a date for release in theaters.

    It will open in conventional and Imax cinemas in China from Aug. 21, making it one of the first outings for a high-profile local film since Chinese cinemas hesitantly returned to operation in late July.

    The $80 million film was produced by Huayi Brothers and is directed by Guan Hu (Mister Six”). It was also the first Chinese film to be entirely shot with Imax cameras.

    Its story centers on the sacrifices made a ragtag group of Chinese soldiers in 1937 Shanghai as imperial Japanese troops advanced. Their operations were once praised by Mao Zedong himself as a “classic example of national revolution.” The theme would have appeared to have been in keeping with the patriotic message that the Beijing government wants to promulgate last year to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

    It was selected to play in the prestigious opening slot of the Shanghai International Film Festival, China’s only A-list festival, in June last year. But disaster struck when, with barely 24 hours to curtain up, the screening was canceled. The film’s commercial release on July 5 was called off shortly after.

    Despite having been approved by censors in the normal fashion, and given clearance to play a state-backed festival, the film appeared to have fallen foul of other, previously unknown, political considerations. The incident revealed a new dimension to the censorship and approvals system.

    A group of Communist Party scholars and experts, calling themselves the China Red Culture Research Association were shown an advanced copy of the movie and subsequently lobbied against it.
    Association members said the film mis-stepped in its portrayal of the rival Kuomintang Party, which ruled China until it lost the civil war against the Communists in 1949 and fled to Taiwan. The two parties continue to dispute their respective roles in fighting the Japanese.

    The association’s secretary general, Wang Benzhou, criticized the film by saying: “The class oppression within the ranks of the Kuomintang army, the misdeeds of its officers and its evil oppression of the people have disappeared without a trace, making it seem that the Kuomintang army was the real people’s army.”

    While there is no hard evidence that the association’s opinions were the cause of the film’s canceled premiere, the group’s stance likely echoes that of the Party’s Propaganda Bureau, which since mid-2018 took over as China’s top film censorship authority, dictating what can be shown and when.

    Numerous other films had abrupt reversals of fortune last year, as the Chinese film industry came to terms with its new master. Zhang Yimou’s Cultural Revolution drama “One Second” was abruptly pulled from its Berlin festival slot in February 2019, while youth drama “Better Days” was similarly ejected from Berlin, but later on went on to have a stellar theatrical career.

    It appears that portrayals of Communist Party history are more sensitive than more contemporary topics, such as drug use and disaffection. “Even things that seem relatively innocuous, or even beneficial, are going to get closer scrutiny, with the attitude being, ‘If there are any chances at all that it could backfire, let’s postpone it until a different time’,” Beijing-based historian Jeremiah Jenne told Variety last year.

    Although China’s political calendar is peppered with potential hot spots, last year was seen as especially sensitive as it was the 70th anniversary of Communist rule in the country. This year contains other important dates, but the coronavirus outbreak, its economic devastation, and the growing Cold War with the U.S. have changed the agenda.

    The film industry has been harder hit by the COVID-19 fallout than most other business sectors and is desperate for help. Cinemas were closed from Jan. 23 until July 20, and some are still only now reopening their doors. To date most films released in Chinese theaters have been re-releases and a mix of small-scale local and international titles.

    “ ’The Eight Hundred’ is the first Chinese-language tentpole to help the film market recover,” said a source close to Huayi.
    Odd ttt for 2020 but 2020 has been odd.
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    Aug 28

    Aug 12, 2020 2:35am PT
    China’s ‘Eight Hundred’ Lines up August Release in North America, Australia, New Zealand
    By Patrick Frater


    Courtesy of Huayi Bros.

    Chinese war action film “The Eight Hundred” will open in theaters in North America, Australia and New Zealand at the end of the month, a week after it becomes the biggest local film this year to open in Chinese cinemas..

    Handled by Huayi Bros., the controversial film will release in China on Aug. 28. Overseas, CMC Pictures has set Aug. 28 as the date for an outing in English-language markets.

    Fixing the date was a delicate balance. It has become common practise in recent years for commercial Chinese films to aim for day-and-date releases that are coordinated with the mainland Chinese outing.

    That approach not only minimizes piracy, but also allows the overseas distributor to capitalize as much as possible on the Chinese marketing efforts, and the assumption that Chinese diaspora audiences are in touch with Chinese social media. A long delay potentially risks the chance that North American-based Chinese diaspora audiences would choose to watch the film on Chinese streaming platforms instead.

    CMC says it is still trying to build out its release pattern. Key cities in North America, notably New York and Los Angeles, are still closed due to coronavirus control restrictions. The same is true in Victoria State and Australia’s second most populous city Melbourne.

    But in Canada, Australia and New Zealand “The Eight Hundred” has the advantage of coming after Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” which will be the first major Hollywood movie into theaters in several months and act as an ice breaker. That strategy does not hold up in the U.S., where “Tenet” is scheduled for Sept. 4.

    Until Tuesday, when four new cases were uncovered in Auckland, New Zealand had gone over 100 days without a locally transmitted COVID-19 case, and most cinemas had reopened. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered a level 2 alert for most of the country, meaning that indoor gatherings must be limited to 100 people. For Auckland, the return to a level 3 alert means that cinemas re-closed from noon on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.

    Local crime drama, “This Town” topped the box office over the past weekend with over NZ$200,000 earned from 114 screen release by Madman Entertainment. The film had shot in Hawkes Bay from a screenplay by David White and Henry Feltham, directed by White and produced by Kelly Martin, Aaron Watson and White.

    The $80 million “Eight Hundred” was produced by Huayi Brothers and is directed by Guan Hu (Mister Six”). It was also the first Chinese film to be entirely shot with Imax cameras.

    Its story centers on the sacrifices made a ragtag group of Chinese soldiers in 1937 Shanghai as imperial Japanese troops advanced. Their operations were once praised by Mao Zedong himself as a “classic example of national revolution.” But its Shanghai Film Festival premiere last June was halted at the last minute, and its July commercial outing cancelled, after intervention by a group of Communist Party scholars and experts. They said that the film had mis-stepped in its portrayal of the rival Kuomintang Party, which ruled China until it lost the civil war against the Communists in 1949 and fled to Taiwan.

    The Chinese film industry has been harder hit by the COVID-19 fallout than most other business sectors. Cinemas were closed from Jan. 23 until July 20, and some are still only now reopening their doors. To date most films released in Chinese theaters have been re-releases and a mix of small-scale local and international titles. Nationwide box office over the past weekend was flat at an aggregate $17 million.
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  10. #10
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    电影《#八佰》/The Eight Hundred 发布片尾曲MV (张译 / 姜武 / 王千源 / 黄志忠)【预告片&#

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  11. #11
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    1st 'new' blockbuster...

    Good to see cinema coming back in PRC.

    Aug 18, 2020 2:02am PT
    China’s ‘The Eight Hundred’ on Blockbuster Track After Huge Monday Previews
    By Patrick Frater


    Bai Xiaoyan/Huayi Bros.

    Big-budget Chinese war epic “The Eight Hundred” is on course to be the first blockbuster film of the year in the Middle Kingdom, after super-strong Monday previews confirmed audience willingness to return to theaters.

    The film earned $7.24 million from 17,200 screenings on Monday, according to data from local analysis firm Ent Group. Even more impressive, that translates as 1.28 million consumers overcoming six months of coronavirus-caution in order to view the much-anticipated title.

    Together with $2.06 million earned from a smaller preview session last Friday, the film has now accumulated $9.31 million ahead of its official launch in Chinese cinemas this coming Friday (Aug. 21).

    The very respectable occupancy levels, equating to 74 tickets per session, come despite capacity in Chinese cinemas currently being limited to 50% by post-coronavirus physical distancing requirements. When Chinese cinemas first reopened on July 20, cinemas were only allowed to sell 30% of their seats.

    Screenings last Friday in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen and Dangdong were video-linked, as the filmmakers met physically with some fans, and remotely with others. There will be further previews through this week.

    Initial reactions appear strongly positive. Viewers scored the film as 9.3 out of 10 on ticketing website Maoyan, 8.0 on Mtime, and 8.0 on movie fan site Douban. (An initial 9.3 score on Alibaba-owned ticketing site Toupiaopiao has since disappeared.)

    It is not only coronavirus, but also political intervention, that has kept “The Eight Hundred” out of cinemas.

    The film’s story centers on the sacrifices made a ragtag group of Chinese soldiers in 1937 Shanghai as imperial Japanese troops advanced. Their operations were once praised by Mao Zedong himself as a “classic example of national revolution.” But its Shanghai Film Festival premiere in June last year was halted at the last minute, and its July 2019 commercial outing cancelled, after intervention by a group of Communist Party scholars and experts. They said that the film had mis-stepped in its portrayal of the rival Kuomintang Party, which ruled China until it lost the civil war against the Communists in 1949 and fled to Taiwan.

    The $80 million “Eight Hundred” was produced by Huayi Brothers and is directed by Guan Hu (Mister Six”), with finance from Alibaba Pictures and Tencent Pictures, among others. It was also the first Chinese film to be entirely shot with Imax cameras. It is set for release in North America on Aug 28.
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  12. #12
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    $119 m

    Aug 23, 2020 12:22pm PT
    ‘The Eight Hundred’ Marches to $119 Million Total at Chinese Box Office
    By Rebecca Davis


    Courtesy of Huayi Bros

    “The Eight Hundred” has marched out ahead of all competitors at the China box office with earnings reminiscent of pre-COVID times, grossing $75.7 million over its opening weekend, according to data from industry tracker Maoyan. This brings its cume since last week’s previews up to $119 million.

    Helmer Guan Hu’s retelling of a historic standoff between Chinese and Japanese soldiers in 1930s Shanghai is the first truly new blockbuster to hit the China market since coronavirus shut cinemas down in late January. In the five weeks since Chinese theaters reopened in late July, the titles available to viewers have been either re-releases of older fare, or Hollywood films that released months ago in other countries and have already circulated amongst many viewers illegally online.

    “The Eight Hundred” should have released last summer, but was pulled at the last minute due to censorship concerns. The version now in theaters is 13 minutes shorter than the one that would have screened last year.

    Chinese commentators have attributed its explosive success to “an upsurge of people’s patriotic enthusiasm during the pandemic period.”

    On the more populist Maoyan app, where the title has a 9.2 out of 10 rating, people mostly said they liked the film because it was emotionally stirring. When selecting key phrases to describe why they enjoyed it, they chose “moving plot,” “a rousing ending,” and many “tearjerking moments” as factors far more than they selected other factors like “good script,” “good creativity,” or “good production values.”

    “A blood-boiling patriotic education film, which allows us us to once again feel the bloody fighters’ feeling of connection to their home country!” wrote one of the most popular user reviews.

    Another said bluntly that to complain about the film was unpatriotic and therefore unacceptable, writing: “Only people who are ****** would go about insulting [this film], people who don’t even know which country’s people they are,” using stars to denote an unfavorable descriptor.

    All other titles this weekend trailed far behind “The Eight Hundred,” with only two others crossing the $1 million mark.

    Its closest competitor was a 4K restored re-release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which grossed $4.2 million this weekend, its second in theaters. This brings its 2020 China cume up to $24 million.

    Newer Hollywood films didn’t fare much better. “Onward,” which debuted in China mid-week on Wednesday, Aug. 18, grossed $1.96 million in its first weekend in theaters to come in third. Its current cume for the territory is now $2.7 million.

    Meanwhile, “Trolls World Tour” premiered Friday to a weekend gross of merely $554,000.

    Other Hollywood films also did only a whimper of business, including “Bad Boys for Life” ($414,000), “Interstellar” ($370,000), and fellow war film “1917” ($214,000).

    A factor contributing to their poor performance is that most of the screenings were allocated to “The Eight Hundred.” That film accounted for an average of 60% of total screenings nationwide over the weekend, while “Trolls” had around around 4%, “Onward” around 6%, and “Harry Potter” around 11.5%.

    The ratio of how many screenings will be given to one film over another may be subject to much backroom wheeling and dealing, but ultimately comes down to cinemas’ own belief that a particular title will make them money.

    Now that “The Eight Hundred” has broken the ice, other local blockbusters will likely be encouraged by its performance to start setting release dates again. Already upcoming are two competitive Chinese new year titles that had previously been pulled due to COVID: animation “Jiang Zi Ya” and Peter Chan’s volleyball drama “Leap,” both set to debut during early October National Day holiday.
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  13. #13
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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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    800 ftw

    Sep 20, 2020 12:50pm PT
    China Box Office: ‘Mulan’ Defeated Yet Again by ‘The Eight Hundred’


    By Rebecca Davis


    Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

    Disney’s “Mulan” made only $6.47 million over its second weekend in China, allowing it to be handily defeated once again by the local war epic “The Eight Hundred,” according to data from industry tracker Maoyan.

    As of Sunday evening, the Disney title has earned a cumulative $36.5 million (RMB 247 million) in the key territory. But “The Eight Hundred” led the Chinese box office by more than tripling those earnings, despite already being a month into its theatrical run.

    “The Eight Hundred” has now earned a total of $425 million (RMB 2.88 billion) since is Aug. 21 debut, making it China’s highest grossing film of the year so far. It is projected to continue on to a total box office of $446 million (RMB 3.02 billion), according to Maoyan estimates.

    In contrast, “Mulan” is currently projected to earn just $41 million (RMB 278 million) — less than a tenth of that tally. The film accounted for about 1 in 5 screenings in China over the weekend and only around 16% of total ticket sales.

    Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” trailed “Mulan” quite closely to come in third this weekend with earnings of $5.6 million, bringing its Sunday evening cume up to $61.4 million (RMB 415 million). “Tenet” opened in China the week before Disney’s live-action remake.

    Despite the fact that Disney went out of its way to make a film that it thought would appeal to Chinese audiences, Nolan’s sci-fi thriller has received better viewer ratings across all platforms and is currently projected by Maoyan to earn $66.9 million (RMB 453 million)— significantly more than “Mulan.”

    In fourth place this weekend was an unexpected contender: the 2018 Italian crime thriller “The Invisible Witness (Il Testimone invisible).” Directed and co-written by Stefano Mordini, the film is a remake of the 2016 Spanish thriller “The Invisible Guest,” a title helmed by Barcelona-born Oriol Paulo, which grossed $25 million in China in 2017.

    In three days in China, the film earned $2.52 million — nearly half of its entire global box office to date. Prior to its China debut, the film had earned $5.3 million worldwide from just four territories: Italy, the Netherlands, Japan and New Zealand. In China, it has likely benefited from the strong word-of-mouth and positive impressions audiences had of Paulo’s prior film.

    In fifth place was Hong Kong film “I’m Livin’ It,” a drama about homeless people who live out of a 24-hour fast food restaurant in the expensive metropolis, starring Aaron Kwok as an out-of-work banker and Miriam Yeung as a struggling singer. It grossed $1.45 million in its opening weekend. Directed by Wong Hing-fan, it won nine nominations and one supporting actor win for Cheung Tat-ming at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards.

    “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the Tom Hanks biopic of children’s TV presenter Fred Rogers, saw its China premiere this weekend, but it had low sales, making just $212,000 in its debut. This put it below the opening weekend of U.K. animated title “Trouble” (which came in sixth with a $940,000 debut) and other titles including “Onward” ($544,000) and “The Blue Defensive Line,” a jingoistic documentary about Chinese UN peacekeeping mission in Africa, which debuted to sales of $483,000.
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