In­ter­net-celebrity thriller draws fans to the­aters

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE - By XU­FAN

Hol­ly­wood’s young-adult thriller Nerve does not have Chi­nese stars or scenes shot in China but it is mak­ing waves in China — the world’s largest in­ter­net mar­ket, where half the pop­u­la­tion is on­line— thanks to its in­ter­net celebri­ties.

In­ter­net celebri­ties are or­di­nary peo­ple striv­ing to be­come on­line sen­sa­tions by show­ing off their tal­ents.

Such celebri­ties in China have mil­lions of fans, gen­er­at­ing huge prof­its. Some of the most pop­u­lar re­port­edly earn more than 300,000 yuan ($43,300) monthly.

This may ex­plain why Nerve, which ex­am­ines the dark side be­hind the in­ter­netcraze — has struck a chord with young Chi­nese, who now form a ma­jor part of the theater-go­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Since it opened on the Chi­nese main­land on Jan 6 — the same day as the tent­pole Rogue One: A Star­Wars Story — Nerve has be­come the sec­ond high­est-gross­ing movie among the Hol­ly­wood im­ports cur­rently on the coun­try’s big screen.

Di­rected by Henry Joost and Ariel Schul­man — the duo known for the in­ter­net­fraud-themed Cat­fish — the 96-minute film re­turns to a fa­mil­iar zone: It ex­am­ines on­line vi­o­lence trig­gered by the web’s anony­mous en­vi­ron­ment.

The film is based on a livestreamed game that gives weird or risky dares to play­ers and cash re­wards to the most-watched win­ners. It be­gins with tasks such as kiss­ing a stranger or run­ning away from a public place naked.

In the movie, the pro­tag­o­nist, a high-school girl played by Amer­i­can ac­tress

It could have been an in­flu­en­tial movie given its novel theme. But the ... film failed to ful­fill its po­ten­tial.”

Emma Roberts, is dragged into a lethal trap where view­ers want to see a win-or­die com­pe­ti­tion be­tween her and her com­peti­tor, played by Dave Franco.

Em­maRoberts is the niece of Os­car-win­ner Ju­lia Roberts, known to Chi­nese for the 1990 hit Pretty Woman. Dave Franco is the younger brother of ac­tor James Franco, know for the Spi­der-Man fran­chise.

De­spite the film’s pop­u­lar­ity, most Chi­nese view­ers re­ported feel­ing a bit dis­ap­pointed with the lat­ter part of the film. While they ex­pected it to take an in-depth look at in­ter­net cul­ture and its neg­a­tive ef­fects, the film’s con­clu­sion failed to meet that ex­pec­ta­tion.

China’s most pop­u­lar re­view site, Douban.com, gave the film a score of 6.6 points out of 10 based on re­views by nearly 20,000 re­spon­dents, which is lower than a Hol­ly­wood qual­ity thresh­old ex­ceed­ing 7.

“It could have been an in­flu­en­tial movie given its novel theme. But the com­ing-of-age film failed to ful­fill its po­ten­tial,” says Douban user “frozen­moon”.

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