Ev­ery week­end from now through Nov 18 will have one or more over­seas film on Chi­nese screens. Xu Fan re­ports.

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China’s movie scene, which has seen a slow­down in the past months, could soon see a re­vival thanks to a flood of for­eign blockbusters.

Start­ing this week, up to seven im­ported films will hit the­aters in China — the world’s sec­ond-largest film mar­ket — for the next month.

Ev­ery week­end from now through Nov 18 will have one or more for­eign blockbusters.

The fig­ure equals the num­ber of for­eign films screened be­tween July and Septem­ber, and this burst is be­ing hailed by­manyChi­nese diehard fans.

“After a long, bor­ing sum­mer and the lack­lus­ter MidAu­tumn and Na­tional Day hol­i­days, we fi­nally have some re­ally big movies worth look­ing for­ward to,” says a ne­ti­zen on Douban.com, the coun­try’s largest re­viewsite.

On Fri­day, Tom Cruise’s ac­tion thriller Jack Reacher: Never Go Back will com­pete with Ja­son Statham’sMe­chanic: Res­ur­rec­tion as well as a film from Ja­pan, Dragon Ball Z: Res­ur­rec­tion ‘F’, the 19th an­i­mated fea­ture in­spired by the Dragon Ball se­ries.

The three films are se­quels, which mean the movies have some res­o­nance with Chi­nese fans, be­sides the celebrity quo­tient.

Cruise, who toured Bei­jing and Shang­hai last week to pro­mote the sec­ond in­stall­ment of the Jack Reacher se­ries, is one of the most pop­u­larHol­ly­wood megas­tars in China thanks to his fran­chise Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble.

Bri­tishac­torS­tatham, known in China for Sylvester Stal­lone’s The Ex­pend­ables, starred in last year’s Fast and Fu­ri­ous 7, which to date is the high­est­gross­ing for­eign film in­China.

Next Fri­day will see Tom Hanks’ In­ferno, hit­ting screens in China.

The Amer­i­can mys­tery thriller’s ti­tle has been trans­lated as Dand­ing Mima (Dante’s Code) in Chi­nese, to show its con­nec­tion with The Da Vinci Code.

The Da Vinci Code beat­King Kong and Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble III to top the for­eign films’ box-of­fice chart in 2006.

Both The Da Vinci Code and In­ferno are adapted from Dan Brown’s name­sake nov­els.

Sep­a­rately, Ang Lee’s lon­gawaited Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk, based on a 19-year-old Amer­i­can soldier’s mem­ory of the Iraq War, will open si­mul­ta­ne­ously in China andtheUnited StatesonNov 11.

A highlight of the two-time Os­car-win­ner’s new film is cut­ting-edge pho­tog­ra­phy: It was shot in 3-D with 4-K res­o­lu­tion (a hor­i­zon­tal res­o­lu­tion of around 4,000 pix­els) at a speed of 120 frames per sec­ond, five times that of a reg­u­lar movie.

The blend of th­ese el­e­ments means Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk will be much more re­al­is­tic and clearer than most other movies.

But there is also bad news— there are only two the­aters, one each in Bei­jing and Shang­hai, re­spec­tively, that have the fa­cil­i­ties to show­case the film’s visual ef­fects.

Mean­while, the last rev­enueim­ported film this year in China is likely to be Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The film, which will pre­miere on Nov 18 in China and the US, is a spinoff and a pre­quel of the Harry Pot­ter film se­ries, and is ex­pected to do well, just like the other movies from the fran­chise based on theHar­ryPot­ter book se­ries by J.K. Rowl­ing.

For most in­dus­try watch­ers, it’s not a sur­prise to see this glut of im­ported films.

China’s the­aters are typ­i­cally dom­i­nated by do­mes­tic ti­tles dur­ing the coun­try’s peak view­ing pe­ri­ods like the sum­mer and hol­i­days like the Na­tional Day and the Spring Fes­ti­val breaks, leav­ing the other pe­ri­ods to im­ported films, says Jiang Yong, a vet­eran in­dus­try watcher.

“But this year was a bit dif­fer­ent. In the past five years, few im­ported films were re­leased in the sum­mer, but this year two or three were re­leased each­mon­th­from July to Septem­ber,” says Jiang.

He also adds that a long­time worry— do­mes­tic film­mak­ers fear­ing their pow­er­ful Hol­ly­wood ri­vals — has gone away as many home­grown movies now res­onate more closely with lo­cals thanks to their cul­tural con­nec­tions.

Li­uHui, deputy­gen­eral­man­ager of Bei­jing UME In­ter­na­tional Cine­plex, echoes the view, say­ing that while most im­ported films are wel­comed in tier-one or tier-two cities, they are not as pop­u­lar as their do­mes­tic ri­vals in smaller cities.

As for box-of­fice re­turns for the year, most in­dus­try ex­perts are not op­ti­mistic.

After see­ing The Mer­maid rake in 3.4 bil­lion yuan ($507 mil­lion) to be­come China’s high­est-gross­ing ti­tle ear­lier this year, many felt that this year’s re­ceipts would sur­pass 60 bil­lion yuan.

But now, the com­mon view is that it will be time for cel­e­bra­tion even if the fig­ure hits 50 bil­lion yuan.

Wang Chang­tian, pres­i­dent of En­light Me­dia stu­dio, says China’s box-of­fice rev­enues have re­turned to “a nor­mal track”, which may stim­u­late lo­cal film­mak­ers to fo­cus more on qual­ity con­tent.

Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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