Welcome to China Film File, a weekly brief on the business of movies in China. In this week’s news: Jia Zhangke is picked for a spot on the Cannes jury, South Korea makes co-production moves, and Legendary’s CEO comes clean about China.
This week’s box office results saw the two homespun films take the lead from the previously top-grossing import Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Raking in over $17 million in tickets, the top slot is held by director Frant Gwo’s romance comedy My Old Classmate, while the Donnie Yen-voiced 3D actioner Iceman pulled into second with a take of just over $11 million.
(Box office results courtesy of Box Office Mojo.)
Along with two other filmmakers from Asia, Jia Zhangke, the director of the controversial Touch Of Sin, has been picked to join the nine-strong jury for this year’s Cannes festival. A definite nod to the growing importance of Eastern voices in the festival, the move to enlist Jia echoes the festival’s appreciation for Touch of Sin, which won best screenplay at last year’s awards.
Chinese independent film director Zhang Juan, who has made quite a few censored films about rock and roll and queer culture, gave a hopeful take on dealing with China’s censors in a recent interview:
“Today, no director should say their talent is oppressed by others. If you are capable, you don’t need to rely on anyone — just put your work online. It is a good time for the film industry and young directors now.”
South Korea’s CJ Entertainment has announced a Chinese co-production thriller titled The Peaceful Island and has two more films slated for mainland release. No stranger to China’s market, CJ produced a co-production last year and invested in two Chinese films, one of which was a remake of the Mel Gibson vehicle What Women Want.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull candidly delivered his opinion on the state of China’s film market:
“If you look at the growth trajectory, it’s hard to ignore. Not having a business plan in China for our company, we thought was irresponsible. A lot of glass is going to be broken, but when you think about the theaters they’re building, China is developing a middle class. We think that’s an opportunity.”
China Real Time published an interesting article that attempts to explain China’s infatuation with movies that chronicle the romance of blinged-out teenagers and romances in first-tier cities such as the Tiny Times franchise. Chinese mega critic Raymond Zhou chimed in:
“Teenage girls in first-tier cities already know what life is like there. They know movies like ‘Tiny Times’ offer hugely exaggerated portrayals of big city life. But girls in second- and third-tier cities have never seen that kind of life and aspire to it.”
The article also features the insight of Nicole Talmacs, a researcher of film and Class at Sydney University, who fairly pointed out:
“China makes movies about poor couples, they just don’t make it into theaters very often.”