Welcome to China Film File, a weekly brief on the business of movies in China. In today’s news: Despicable Me 2 wins another week at the box office, The Grandmaster nabs two Oscar nominations, and a massive expansion of China’s movie theaters in 2013.
This week, premieres of Hollywood imports Despicable Me 2 and Ender’s Game dominated China’s box office, earning over $15 million and $10 million, respectively. At the same time, the mainland’s homespun films Police Story 2013 and record-breaking Personal Tailor continued to rake in comparatively high earnings.
(Box office results courtesy of Box Office Mojo.)
Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster nabs two Oscar nominations. While the high-concept martial arts blockbuster was only shortlisted for Best Foreign Picture, the academy has nominated William Chang Suk-Ping for the film’s costume design and Philippe Le Sourd for its cinematography.
A staggering 5,077 movie screens were built in China in 2013. With a 32 percent increase in ticket sales over 2012, it seems that China will have no problem filling the more than 903 complexes erected in 2013, pushing the total number of screens in the mainland to 18,195. However, there’s still more to go: this article stipulates that China’s booming film industry will only be satisfied when somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 screens have been built.
Hunan-based filmmaker Liu Yimu says his footage and materials compiled for his independent documentary These Changsha People have been taken and destroyed by the government. The documentary features interviews with a broad spectrum of Changsha’s inhabitants, from fashion models and students to prison inmates and war veterans. Potentially seeing the project as politically threatening, China’s Domestic Security Division gave Liu a cease and desist order and then took all of his materials. At this point, Liu is has requested the return of his content and an adequate response from Hunan’s officials, who in the last few years have apparently put more effort into “stability maintenance” than any other province.
Hit TV show-based movie I Want You flops at China’s box offices. Singing competition The Voice of China reaches an audience of 200 million in Asia, so producers expected that fans would swarm the premier of the movie based on it. However, the film did so poorly that it was already being pulled from slots in theaters by its second week. Following a discussion of what went wrong, this article takes an engaging look at the business of television and concert-based films in China.