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A Crushing Defeat for Chinese Films

2012-07-06 11:01:10        Chinese Films

Hollywood blockbusters dominate Chinese film market in the last half of year in 2012. [Photo:china.org.cn]

A hot Chinese film, "Painted Skin 2", has a box office intake at 300 million yuan (approx. US$47million) within only four days, which encouraged China's film industry. However, a fact can't be neglected is that domestic films have experienced a crushing defeat in the first half of 2012.

China's total box office gross over the last half-year was 7.74 billion yuan (US$1.21 billion), a 35 percent jump from box office results during the same period time last year. However, 38 foreign films raked in 5 billion yuan (US$787 million) , and represent 65 percent of the total. Over 100 domestically-produced movies earned less than 3 billion yuan.

Hollywood's 3D re-release of "Titanic" grossed 976 million yuan (US$153.62 million) in the Chinese market, and was the biggest grossing film in China so far. The list of the China's top 10 box office winners also includes: "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," "The Avengers," "Men In Black 3," "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," China's latest "Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection," "Battleship," "John Carter,"  "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," and "Wrath of the Titans." Nine of these movies are from Hollywood, which is rather embarrassing for the Chinese film industry.

The loss rate for Chinese films was high, which will decrease investor confidence. Something must be done to prevent the Chinese films industry from suffering further losses.

Quality vs. Quantity

In the first half of 2012, 141 films have been shown in China, among which there are 103 Chinese films (including Hong Kong and Taiwan films), and only 38 imported films. The figure seems encouraging, while the market performances have dismayed us.

Only 10 out of 103 domestic films have made profits, including "Painted Skin 2", "I Do", and "Bixian Panic" and etc.; and 8 broke even by combing earnings of box office, implanted adverts and copyright sales, including "The Great Magician", "Black & White episode 1", while the other 85 are still running in the red. Therefore, the loss ratio in past six months was surprisingly as high as 82.5 percent.

Success comes from good luck

Taking the film "A Simple Life" (Tao Jie) for example, it is a low-cost literary film, with only 12 million yuan (less than US$2 million) investment. It has become the award winner in many film festivals worldwide, although the creators in chief didn't have one-hundred percent confidences in its success. It's leading actor and investor Andy Lau, one of the most famous Hong Kong-born actors and singers, expressed his surprise when been asked, he said, "It is blind luck to me this time."

"A Simple Life" is not an exception, for 8 out of 10 films which made profits were not expected to be a huge success in the box office when completing the creation. However, this is an unhealthy phenomenon for the Chinese film market when making profits depends mostly on good luck.

Inevitable losses

Huge investment, famous actors and actresses plus nationwide promotions were supposed to make a film a big success. But things are becoming different and complex.

Some huge-cost films suffered a loss in money, for example, "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seedio Bale", and "The Viral Factor", even though they both had high public praise either in casting or in producing.

Statistics also showed that 60 low-cost domestic films with only 3-5 million yuan (US$470 thousand) investment can not avoid the red ink destiny for the depressed box office revenue.

Hopes for Chinese films

The increased import quota for Hollywood blockbusters into the Chinese market has posed a great challenge to Chinese films, due to the unsatisfied quality of some Chinese films.

However, high hopes overwhelm the Chinese film circle. "LOVE" director Doze Niu Chen-zer suggested that Chinese film producers should draw inspiration from local stories, while making use of Hollywood skills, by which way Chinese films could stand fast in both domestic and world film markets.

Top ten Chinese films suffering the most losses (name/cost/box office)

1, The Viral Factor / 200 milliion yuan (approx US $ 31million )/131 million yuan(approx US $20 million)

2, All's Well Ends Well /75 million yuan/80 million yuan

3, An Inaccurate Memoir /20 milliion yuan /26 million yuan

4, Scheme with Me/nearly 30 million/23 million yuan

5, Shadows of Love/ tens of millions yuan/18 million yuan

6, Fairy Tale Killer/ tens of million yuan/17 million yuan

7, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seedio Bale/ 160 million yuan/14.75 million yuan

8, Inseparable /42 million yuan/9million yuan

9, Joyful Reunion /10 million yuan/4.7 million yuan

10, 11 Flowers/ nearly 10 million yuan/ 4.7million yuan

Note: In China, 1 yuan(US$0.15) investment need a 2.5 yuan(US$0.3)box office revenue to reach a break-even.

Top Ten Chinese films made profits (name/cost/box office)

1, Painted skin 2/ 120 million yuan/300 million yuan

2, Mission Incredible: Adventures On The Dragon's Trail/12 million yuan/164 million yuan

3, Guns and Roses/ 50 million yuan/154 million yuan

4, I Do / 30 milliion yuan/83 million yuan

5, You Are the Apple of My Eye/nearly 10 million yuan/78 million yuan

6, Love in the Buff/20 million yuan/73 million yuan

7, A Simple Life (Sister Peach)/12 million yuan/71 million yuan

8, The Monkey King 3D/10 million yuan/50 million yuan

9, Blood Stained Shoes/6.5 million yuan/45 million yuan

10, Bixian Panic/ several millions yuan/24 million yuan

Source: China.org.cn

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