Welcome to China Film File, a weekly brief on the business of movies in China. In this week’s news: The Hobbit 2 brings all time monthly high, crackdowns on ticket sale fraud, and director Guan Er offers his contact information in a very unconventional way.
This last week saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sweep China’s box offices while driving the monthly cumulative box office record to a new high at over $3 billion. Driven by strong turnouts across the Lunar New Year holiday and Valentine’s Day, the box office profits of this February alone are almost equal to 2007’s entire year gross.
(Box office results courtesy of Box Office Mojo)
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) is cracking down on at least 15 theaters for fudging their box office figures. Mostly in second- and third-tier cities, some theaters have been manipulating their ticket sales data in order to skim tax money. However, operators claim they were forced to cheat to keep their doors open because of competition from all of the recent theater openings. While a few of the theaters are only getting marked down in a book for their violations, others are banned from screening new films until they fix their sales reporting. New national regulations from the SAPPRFT hope to nip the issue in the bud by requiring theater owners to install software that will track box office sales. While this only represents more control for China’s film body, the upside of this regulation is that box office data should be more accurate.
According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, Guan Er, the director of franchise ghost movie Bixian Panic 2 posted his cell phone number at the end of the credits saying that anybody in the audience who didn’t like the movie should call him for a refund.
Oscar-nominated for his work on The Grandmaster, production designer William Chang Suk-Ping sat down with the Wall Street Journal for an interview. The interesting talk goes everywhere from Chang Suk-Ping’s taste in art to the difference of Cheongsams from the 1920s and 30s. On the production design for The Grandmaster:
We used hundreds of black fabrics. Different textures, glossy, less glossy, matte, very matte. Black with blue in it, black with brown, black with red. Velvet creates a very deep black. One day my assistant said: “Everyone is wearing black! Is it OK?” I said: “Don’t worry. I’m very sure.”
As the British film industry continues to get into position to embark on Chinese co-productions, the British Film Institute hosted Chinese director Feng Xiaogang to kick off their China film season. Part of a larger UK-Chinese film initiative, the two countries will also be hosting a filmmaker exchange program and other joint ventures in order to strengthen film industry ties before the signing of a co-production treaty expected later this year.