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Chinese audience expects good stories


09:37, June 20, 2013

People attending this year's Shanghai International Film Festival are suggesting a good storyline and a better connection with the audience should be the focus of Chinese filmmakers as they push to better-connect with local audiences.

Ticket sales for the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival have got off to a flying start this year. The organizing committee said more than 4 million yuan or US$645,000 worth of tickets were sold by late afternoon on the first day, which is up 20 percent on the same period last year. This is another strong proof of China's film industry's explosive growth. Popular choices are said to include comedies, romantic movies, films with realistic themes and classics.

With box office revenues in China rising to $2.7 billion, the country has now edged out Japan to become the second-largest film market in the world after the United States. Therefore, figuring out the smartest ways to reach Chinese moviegoers has become one of the film industry's top priorities.

Ren Zhonglun, Chairman of Shanghai Film Group Corporation, says genre film is the most likely to be successful in the expanding market in China, "What kinds of films will be the biggest winner in China's film market? I think the answer is very easy, only two words - genre film. In today's Chinese film market, you can never say which type of movie can dominate over five years or a decade. In different period, there are different film genres being popular among the audience. They take turns."

It's easy to see that over the past two years films with realistic themes, cute romantic movies and comedies are frequently box office successes in China. A low-budget comedy "Lost in Thailand", which costs only 30-million-yuan has set the highest-ever box office record among domestic feature films, raking in about 1.2 billion yuan. A romantic movie "Finding Mr. Right" has earned over 500 million yuan. Both movies give the film market a big surprise.

Zhou Liming is a senior film critic. Here is his opinion. "Audiences' preferences are always evolving. I think about 10 years ago we saw a big boom in fantasy films, costume dramas like 'Hero' and 'House of Flying Daggers'. Those movies are basically not about reality; they are about dreams. So the images you see on the big screen are what you'll never see in the real world. But I think the recent boom in the past year is more or less reality-based movies. Those are all about real people whom we can identify with. And they speak a kind of language that can really click with a lot of people."

However, as such films have won a huge success, more and more filmmakers are trying to copy the successful cases and follow the trend blindly. Films of both high and low qualities are rushing into the market.

Wang Changtian is President of Enlight Media Group. He notes, "Genre film has so many types, such as romantic film, war film, science fiction film, disaster film, etc. But there are many types we didn't explore. Now too many filmmakers focus on making youth films and comedies. Over 100 film projects have come to me. But most of them are of low quality. Don't follow suit."


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