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What's hot in Chinese New Year movie season

By Jiang Yuxia  (Global Times)

12:43, February 07, 2013

(PD Online)

The Chinese New Year movie season is the most sought-after period for big studios, with China's unique genre of he sui pian, or New Year celebration movies, competing for audiences. The movies, often romances or comedies produced to entertain a whole family, have the biggest stars performing in big-time ensembles.

2013 Spring Festival Special

This year, the New Year season coincides with the Valentine's Day, which falls on the fifth day of the Chinese New Year. He sui pian films in 2013 will have to add an extra dose of romance to ensure good box office returns.

"Valentine's Day will help attract more people this year," said film critic Qu Xiao. "Most people go to cinema to relax and laugh. He sui pian, which usually can give the whole family a good laugh, are still highly anticipated."

Laugh it up

The entertainment will officially kick off this Sunday, the first day of the Chinese New Year, and three domestic films, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, Better and Better and Love Retake, will be released.

Among the three, Journey to the West, an action-comedy film adapted from the classical Chinese novel of the same name and directed by Hong Kong's actor-turned-director Stephen Chow, is the most eagerly anticipated.

Starring Shu Qi, Huang Bo and Wen Zhang, the movie recounts the arduous and hilarious journey of Tang Dynasty (618-907) monk Xuan Zang who fearlessly catches demons, including the Monkey King, on his pilgrimage to India. Though under a vow of celibacy, the monk falls in love with fellow demon-catcher Miss Duan, played by Shu.

Judging from the trailers, the movie will have Chow's typical brand of farce and humor.

"A lot of people my age (early 30s) watched Chow's movies while growing up and enjoy his humor. Journey to the West will attract them for sure," said Qu.

Love prevails

Last year's Valentine's Day saw blockbuster box office sales: 140 million yuan ($22.4 million) nationwide, a new one-day record. Therefore movie studios are hoping romances will have another stellar year.

After the big comedy premieres Sunday, romance is set to dominate the big screens. Say Yes starring Huang Bo and Taiwanese model-actress Lin Chi-ling, Together with Taiwanese teen idol Ke Zhendong and Michelle Chen and romantic cartoon My Wife is a Cat are poised to have strong performances.

Year-long hot releases

During past Spring Festivals, mainstream studios and famed directors such as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige would roll out their big-budget movies, as the festive season was seen as a guarantee for box office sales.

But this year, besides the blockbuster by Chow, the movies coming out are spearheaded by lesser-known directors but still with well-known movie stars, including Huang and Wang Baoqiang, both of whom starred in this year's huge hit Lost in Thailand.

"To win over audiences, directors have to pull out all the stops, and some have lost their touch over the years," said Qu. "Now a lot of them no longer hold the belief that the New Year season is a guarantee for a good box office showing."

As shown in the case of Lost in Thailand, any month can produce a blockbuster. Therefore some of the directors want to stay away from the season.

Lost in Thailand, a work of the actor-turned-director Xu Zheng with a budget of 25 million yuan, raked in 1.26 billion yuan by January 28. That's just slightly less than the global sensation Avatar, which made 1.38 billion yuan in box office sales in China.

No Hollywood hits

Foreign hits have been snubbed this Chinese New Year movie season to make way for a successful box office of domestic movies. Although this month will usher in a few movies, they will only be screened after the New Year holiday.

Jack Reacher, the American thriller starring Tom Cruise, will open February 16, the seventh day of the New Year. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, directed by Peter Jackson, will premiere February 22, and the lauded musical Les Misérables, set in 19th-century France, will hit Chinese screens February 28.

Though Hollywood films often fare well in Chinese cinemas, Qu said they won't pose a threat to domestic films as they are screened after the holiday.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Ye Xin)

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