Box-of­fice stum­ble

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

have ru­ined some movies with great po­ten­tial,” says Yin Hong, a pro­fes­sor with Ts­inghua Univer­sity and a renowned film critic.

As more and more peo­ple are go­ing to cinemas and are pre­sented with nu­mer­ous works on the screen, movie­go­ers have ma­tured enough to refuse to pay for less in­ter­est­ing, or even bad, ones, says Zhang.

Ticket sub­si­dies have been cen­tral to the China film mar­ket since 2014, when on­line cinema book­ing be­came pop­u­lar.

Ticket sell­ers have in­vested heav­ily in low­er­ing prices to at­tract more users and en­cour­age more peo­ple, es­pe­cially those from small cities and towns, to go to the cinema.

Th­ese sub­si­dies have now been cut, and peo­ple ap­pear re­luc­tant to pay higher prices.

“Ticket sub­si­dies were worth nearly 5 bil­lion yuan in 2015, ac­count­ing for 10 per­cent of to­tal rev­enue,” says Wang Chang­tian, chair­man of En­lightMe­dia.

What’s more, au­thor­i­ties are closely watch­ing ticket sales as a num­ber of box-of­fice frauds came to light ear­lier this year. In March, the dis­trib­u­tor of mar­tial arts movie Ip Man 3 ad­mit­ted to hav­ing fab­ri­cated box-of­fice fig­ures. Other dis­trib­u­tors were also re­ported to be buy­ing tick­ets of their own films in ad­di­tion to “steal­ing” box of­fice from other films.

If fraud can­not be ruled out, the qual­ity and rep­u­ta­tion of Chi­nese films will be com­pro­mised and ul­ti­mately peo­ple will not want to watch them, says Shi Chuan, vice pres­i­dent of Shanghai Film As­so­ci­a­tion.

The cool­ing of the film mar­ket may be a warn­ing for movie mak­ers and in­vestors, re­mind­ing them that only by mak­ing high-qual­ity films can they ex­pect ac­claim and money at the same time.

“In a healthy movie in­dus­try, well-made works with good sto­ries rule,” says movie critic Zhang Guopei.

The warn­ing signs are also an op­por­tu­nity for the in­dus­try to make changes, ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent gen­res and cul­ti­vat­ing tal­ent in post-pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing.

Film di­rec­tor LuChuan was sat­is­fied last year with his 3-D ac­tion-thriller Chron­i­cles of the Ghostly Tribe, in spite of the poor box of­fice, as it was a rare chance for Chi­nese vis­ual ef­fects artists to learn from theirHol­ly­wood coun­ter­parts.

Both China Film Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Film Co. Ltd., the coun­try’s two lead­ing State-owned film pro­duc­ers and dis­trib­u­tors, went pub­lic in Shanghai early this month, a stim­u­lant that may gen­er­ate a new round of growth in in­dus­try.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Mar­tial arts movie IpMan3, star­ring Don­nie Yen, causes a stir af­ter the film’s dis­trib­u­tor ad­mits to hav­ing fab­ri­cated box-of­fice fig­ures.

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