Cin­e­mas ‘not forced’ to screen film

Rev­o­lu­tion-themed movie boasts a strong cast of pop­u­lar ac­tors

Global Times US Edition - - TOPNEWS - By Cao Siqi

Pro­mot­ers of a rev­o­lu­tion­themed movie, cel­e­brat­ing the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s (PLA) 90th birth­day de­nied that cin­e­mas were given or­ders to screen the movie, say­ing that all cin­ema ar­range­ments will be based on the movie’s mar­ket per­for­mance.

With a cast fea­tur­ing an ar­ray of young ac­tors and ac­tresses, the drama The Found­ing of an Army hit the cin­e­mas on Thurs­day, win­ing con­sid­er­able box of­fice and wide pos­i­tive com­ments.

As the third in­stall­ment of the Found­ing of New China tril­ogy, the film opens with the Nan­chang Upris­ing in 1927, which was the first ma­jor Kuom­intang-Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) en­gage­ment dur­ing the Chi­nese Civil War. De­pict­ing the found­ing of the PLA, the film aims to com­mem­o­rate the PLA’s 90th birth­day on Au­gust 1.

Be­fore it made a de­but, an an­nounce­ment cir­cu­lat­ing on­line showed that China’s me­dia reg­u­la­tors have re­quired lo­cal cin­ema chains to en­sure that the movie oc­cu­pies at least 45 per­cent of wide screens in China over the week­end. More­over, ac­cu­sa­tions that the govern­ment had “forced” the cin­e­mas to al­lo­cate the largest num­ber of screens for the film, or re­quired them to buy tick­ets so that its box of­fice could reach the top have gone vi­ral.

But the pro­mot­ers of the film re­futed the ac­cu­sa­tions on its of­fi­cial Sina Weibo ac­count, say­ing they were ru­mors.

An em­ployee sur­named Zhu from the mar­ket depart­ment of Bona Cin­ema (Bei­jing’s Youtang branch) told the Global Times on Thurs­day that the cin­ema has never re­ceived any “re­quire­ment” from the govern­ment and they ar­ranged the film based on its mar­ket de­mand.

Ac­cord­ing to the statis­tics on Maoyan, a Chi­nese on­line film data­base, the film showed on 64,947 screens across the coun­try on Thurs­day, ac­count­ing for 26.7 per­cent of the total and rank­ing the top. The pro- por­tion in­creased to 36.1 per­cent on Fri­day and 36.3 per­cent on Satur­day.

Com­pared to com­mer­cial block­busters, films high­light­ing the main so­cial tune have al­ways been in an in­fe­rior po­si­tion when it comes to box of­fice.

Shi Wenxue, a Bei­jing-based film critic, said that the pop­u­lar­ity of the tril­ogy showed that such films are gain­ing higher sta­tus in the film mar­ket and serv­ing as a channel for the au­di­ence to show their pa­tri­otic en­thu­si­asm.

How­ever, the film also stirred con­tro­versy with peo­ple ques­tion­ing its choice of ac­tors.

Di­rec­tor Ye Day­ing, grand­son of Ye Ting, a well-known CPC mil­i­tary leader, ex­pressed his strong op­po­si­tion to the young ac­tor who played Ye Ting in the epic. “You (film di­rec­tor) chose an ef­fem­i­nate male ac­tor who can’t even stand straight to play Ye Ting. Who are you try­ing to hu­mil­i­ate?” said Ye.

More­over, other de­scen­dants also sent a joint let­ter to reg­u­la­tors to ex­press their dis­sat­is­fac­tion.

It is un­der­stand­able for di­rec­tors to choose pop­u­lar young ac­tors for com­mer­cial pur­poses. More im­por­tantly, by at­tract­ing their en­thu­si­as­tic fans, the young ac­tors help them get to know more about the his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, which helps ful­fill the mis­sion of the film to some ex­tent, said Shi.

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