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.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn Xu Fan

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.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

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.

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