Cinemas ‘not forced’ to screen film
Revolution-themed movie boasts a strong cast of popular actors
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.