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Hollywood rivalry

By Wei Xi (Global Times)

08:30, April 27, 2012

promotional poster of Battle in CBD

While the second Beijing International Film Festival is setting a record by screening 200 foreign films and inviting international stars and directors, Chinese movie companies are shifting and re-organizing standards in face of overseas competition. Domestic companies like Huayi Brothers, Enlight Media and LeTV Movie have recently released their shooting plans for 2012 and 2013, an ambitious schedule intended to draw in a diverse audience.

With 14 new films from the US entering the mainland market, the next few years will be a testing time for China's movie industry. In order to occupy a space in the hearts and wallets of patrons, movie companies are producing a large number of films in a variety of genres, topping it off with big star names.

Ambitions and projects

Enlight Media and Huayi Brothers are planning to release over a dozen new films this upcoming year; LeTV has planned eight films for the remaining eight months of 2012. As household names draw in numbers, movie companies are putting emphasis on promoting well-known directors and celebrities, working alongside big names.

Huayi has hired directors Feng Xiaogang, Tsui Hark, and Doze Ni. Established actors Jet Li, Wen Zhang, Xu Zheng and Wang Baoqiang are acting in new films produced by Enlight. LeTV is in cooperation with Hollywood for future sequel The Expendables II.

Successful films and TV shows from the past are being adapted for the big screen. Enlight will take to theaters TV drama Shanghai Beach, a show popular in the 1980s. LeTV is adapting Mahua Fun's stage play, Wulongshan Bojue (Earl of Wulong Mountain), to film. Besides the adaptation, LeTV will also produce Battle in CBD and Fairy Tale Killer this year. Age Production Company, which produced the children cartoon Legend of the Moles: The Frozen Horror will release a sequel, Legend of the Moles: The Treasure of Scylla.

Over a press conference last weekend, Wang Zhongjun, CEO of Huayi said, "2012 is a prosperous but difficult year for Chinese films. As Hollywood is getting a larger portion of the market, we are concerned about the competition. Huayi Brothers feels the pressure, but we are putting the responsibility on ourselves."

Wang is confident about Huayi's success, hoping that box office revenues for 2012 will hit 2 billion yuan ($318 million), breaking last year's record of 1.7 billion. Wang said he anticipates Feng Xiaogang's new film, Wengu 1942, to break records previously set by Feng's 2010 Aftershock, which took in 673 million yuan, the highest in Huayi history.

Though the film has not wrapped up, director Feng said he is satisfied with his project, planned for release at the end of this year. Feng's focus for next year will be on the comedy, Siren Dingzhi.

Wang remains optimistic about the film industry at home. " About 94 percent of Chinese theaters screen Hollywood films. But soon, films from domestic directors will end the monopoly."

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