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Chinese movies have a long way to go to attract audiences overseas

(People's Daily Online)

08:43, June 14, 2012

"Chinese movie stars and producers cannot just walk the red carpet at foreign film festivals. That cannot make Chinese movies more popular abroad," Huang Huilin, a professor at Beijing Normal University’s College of Arts and Communication and director of the university’s Institute for International Communication of Chinese Culture, said with undisguised anxiety, adding that Chinese movies are facing an extremely tough situation in attracting foreign audiences.

When China’s box-office revenue grows year by year, few people have noticed that the foreign box-office receipts for Chinese movies amounted to slightly over 2 billion yuan in 2011, down nearly 43 percent from the figure in 2010 and almost the same as five years ago. A research team led by Huang pointed out this phenomenon in their newly published Silver Paper: Report on International Spread of Chinese Movies 2011, sending a wake-up call to the seemingly booming Chinese movie industry.

The team, consisting of researchers from the Institute for International Communication of Chinese Culture, compiled the report by surveying 1,400 foreigners speaking 18 languages in nine countries of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, and South Korea and analyzing their access to, preferences in, and cultural understanding of Chinese movies.

The survey found that Chinese movies are rarely seen in foreign cinemas, and only a limited number of Chinese movies have been shown commercially overseas. If revenue from the sale of DVDs and other tie-ins was deducted from the over 2 trillion yuan of box-office receipts, Chinese movies actually only grossed over 1 billion yuan overseas last year. More than 55 percent of foreign respondents watch Chinese movies on tapes or DVDs, and only over 32 percent would like to watch Chinese movies in cinema.

As "Made in China" products are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, Chinese movies have emerged as a weak link in the foreign trade of China, the world’s largest exporter.

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Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

paul at 2012-06-1686.42.141.*
First, There is no such thing as western culture, we are all quite different and have different tastes. Second, national films do reflect local taste; thats why so few icelandic, portugese or finnish films are popular abroad. Finally the only genre that has crossed borders is the hollywood (and bollywood) blockbuster - they may make money and get audiences, but are they really great cinema?
Dave at 2012-06-15217.168.16.*
Let me reflect a Western perception to this if you don"t mind. We Western audience are far more sophisticated in our entertainment taste, and do not like to be saddled with childish undertones in movies, morality lectures, Government propagandas, or excessive censorship. Perhaps if Chinese films can treat us to the degree of respect, maturity and imagination which we viewers deserves, then it will be better accepted. We really do not like to see pasty face uncharismatic actors with no acting abilities preaching a tale of morality to us, which is why Kung Fu movies, and many of the Hong Kong movies of the past in general are so popular among Western audiences. They had a creative story board unrestricted by censorship, as well as very charismatic Actors/Actresses. China produces none of those, and the movies in general are dull and bland, I did rather watch sesame street then watching a soapy unimaginative, childish Chinese film with actors/actresses that looks like they missed out on puberty, and this is not a racist accessment in any sense. I loved Chinese movies in the past, nowadays I can"t stand them.

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