50 new movies to hit theaters this summer
Some 50 new movies will hit Chinese theaters by the end of August, taking the total number of releases in this season to 90. reports.
As the summer hits China, the country is seeing a glut of films for one of the year’s most profitable periods for the Chinese film industry.
Around 50 new movies will hit theaters by the end of August, taking the total of new releases over June-August to around 90, according to leading online pre-sale sites maoyan.com and gewara.com.
China’s national college entrance examination, or gaokao, ended on June 8, which means students have three months off. And families and teenagers form a big part of the theater-going population.
Meanwhile, just like in past summers, domestic productions again dominate the lineup, squeezing Hollywood blockbusters out.
As of now when it comes to foreign films, Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic Dunkirk will be released on the Chinese mainland on Sept 1, around 40 days after its North American premiere.
Other Hollywood movies — which are anticipated in summer — are Car 3 and Baby Driver, which have already been released in North America.
The two movies are expected to be released on the mainland at the end of August.
Typically, big budget foreign movies seeking a global market are released on the Chinese mainland either simultaneously or a bit later.
Industry watchers also see the summer as a key period to boost the domestic film sector, which has been largely overshadowed by its foreign rivals for at least the past six months.
In the first half of 2017, around 250 movies were released in around 8,500 mainland theaters, raking in 27.2 billion yuan ($4 billion), up 10 percent year on year, according to a report by the online ticketing platform Tao Piaopiao.
But only five domestic movies, or 28 percent, were among the 18 blockbusters surpassing the threshold 500 million yuan mark.
More than 70 percent of Chineselanguage movies earned less than 10 million yuan each.
But, in a piece of good news, 50 million more tickets were sold than in the same period last year, with the bulk of the increase coming from smaller cities.
Big-budget war films such as The Founding of an Army and Wolf Warriors II — both set to debut on July 28 — are making waves as this year marks the 90th anniversary of the setting-up of the People’s Liberation Army.
The Founding of an Army retells the story of the 1927 Nanchang Uprising, a major chapter in the Communist-Kuomintang conflict during the civil war.
The makers of Wolf Warriors II are so confident of their product that it is believed that they have signed a pre-pay contract with the distributors.
The producers believe that the movie will bring in at least 800 million yuan.
The first Wolf Warriors movie, made with a budget of around 100 million yuan in 2015, made 525 million yuan at the box office.
Wu Jing, the actor-director of the franchise, says the new movie — which has scenes shot in Africa — used 12 military tanks, two similarsized helicopter props, 50,000 bullet props and more than 100 cars for the film.
Using star power to attract the public to watch revolutionary content was first tried in 2009 with The Founding of a Republic, and was followed with Beginning of The Great Revival, also known as The Founding of a Party in 2011.
Coming-of-age movies, made famous by actress Zhao Wei’s directorial debut So Young in 2012, are also doing well.
But unlike earlier films based on college romances, the new movies are exploring fresh ideas.
Following Fist & Faith (which is to debut on July 13) is about Chinese teenagers fighting Japanese invaders in northeastern China in the 1930s, and Our Shining Days, which premieres on July 28, is about Chinese folk music.
Hong Kong veteran musician Kubert Leung is the music director of Our Shining Days, featuring top talent such as Japanese pop diva Mika Nakashima and Chinese mainland songwriter-singer Zhou Bichang.
Animated film fans also have cartoon features to entertain them.
But Dahufa (Safekeeper of the State), now ranked as one of the most anticipated animated movies, is different. It is a rare Chinese movie with a self-rated certificate. The cult tale is a hybrid of traditional Chinese ink painting-like landscapes and violence.
But for its supporters, Dahufa — which was completed last year — is a milestone for the Chinese animated film industry, which has often been criticized for lack of appeal when it comes to adults.
The sci-fi movie genre, another weak spot for the Chinese movie industry, is also seeing new contenders.
After Yang Mi’s sci-fi thriller Reset received mixed reviews, a new tale Meow starring Hong Kong giant star Louis Koo is in the fray.
Meow features a cute, fluffy alien, and producers hope it will resonate with pet lovers.
The fantasy genre, which typically dominated TV drama fans, is also seeing big-screen versions of the small-screen hits.
The Legend of Naga Pearls and Once Upon a Time are two examples of such films.
The Legend of Naga Pearls is directed by Yang Lei who made the 2016 hit fantasy TV series Novoland: The Castle in the Sky.
Once Upon a Time, featuring Liu Yifei and Yang Yang, is the movie version of the popular TV series Eternal Love.
The film and the TV series are based on the hit online novel Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms.
Clockwise from top left: Meow, starring Hong Kong giant star Louis Koo; OnceUponaTime, featuring Liu Yifei and Yang Yang; war film Wolf Warriors II; fantasy film Our Shining Days and war epic The Founding of an Army, starring actor Liu Ye as Chairman Mao Zedong, are among the new titles set to hit Chinese mainland theaters in coming weeks.