Blockbuster Growth in China’s Film Industry

As Hollywood remains uneasy over the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation into Hollywood companies’ practices in China, CNN reports international films swept the top ten highest grossing films in China:

Industry insiders say international influence is only set to grow, as Chinese censors loosen restrictions on foreign films and more fans make a habit of seeking out the latest blockbusters. Last year, the country’s box office receipts increased 30% to over RMB 17 billion ($2.7 billion), making China the world’s second-largest box office

On the fifth episode of CNN’s monthly show “On China,” host Kristie Lu Stout traveled to Hengdian Film Studios to discover what strikes a chord with Chinese viewers. There, she asked Dan Mintz, CEO of DMG Entertainment Group, and acclaimed film directors Jin Yimeng (Eva) and Lu Chuan what Chinese filmgoers want to see.

On the surface, the script for success is not dissimilar to what works in the United States, they said. U.S. films, including “Titanic 3D” and “Mission: Impossible– Ghost Protocol” comprised seven of the top 10 highest-grossing films in 2012, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television. While foreign films accounted for only a quarter of the 303 movies screened in Chinese theatres last year, they took in over half of overall ticket sales (52.4%).

Easy access to theaters is also driving mainland viewers to the silver screen. China has over 12,000 movie screens and it is adding more at a rate of eight to 10 each day, Mintz said. Cinemas in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai are comparable to those in the U.S., Lu added.

In an attempt to attract fans of the film, ‘Titanic,’ there are now plans to build a replica of the Titanic in China. From The Hollywood Reporter:

According to Blue Star Line, the cruise line company Palmer founded to build and manage the vessel, the Titanic II was designed by Finnish naval architecture firm Deltamarin but is being built in China’s Jiangsu province by state-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling.

Palmer introduced the dinner via a video-conference call from Australia, saying, according to the Wall Street Journal: “Why build the Titanic? Why go to the moon?”

“They’ve really got guts. You see how many collapsing bridges there are in China and how much ‘tofu-style’ construction there is, and they still dare to do it,” the Journal quoted one micro-blogger as writing.

“Titanic II is being built by a Chinese shipyard!! How stupid. Do you want to re-enact the original ending?” wrote another.

Despite the success of international films in China, Stephen Chow’s latest comedy landed in the top spot in the box office during the Spring Festival holiday. From China Daily:

The takings for Chow’s blockbuster, featuring Wen Zhang, Shu Qi and Huang Bo, accounted for 66.7 percent of all ticket sales during the period, according to a posting by China Film News on micro-blogging service Sina Weibo.

The film took 76.7 million yuan on its first day of release on Feb 10 on the Chinese mainland. It also smashed the opening-day record for domestic films by beating last year’s 70 million yuan made by Chinese film Painted Skin: Resurrection.

The fast-expanding Chinese film market – measured by audience figures and number of screens – has nurtured record-breaking box-office revenue this year, said Huang Qunfei,general manager of Beijing New Film Association Co Ltd, one of China’s largest theater chains.

Huang said domestic box-office revenue has grown 30 percent on average each year, with more than 9,600 screens across the nation. he said he expects even higher growth this year.