Yesterday Clifford Coonan wrote an article for The Hollywood Reporter concerning a survey conducted by the The Academy for International Communications of Chinese Culture (AICCC/中国文化国际传播实验中心). The report concluded that Chinese film still has a low attendance rate at foreign cinemas and that the most popular genre is Kung Fu and Comedy (?). I found the report interesting because I did a similar, though more shallow, analysis of Chinese films outside of the Chinese market – or more specific the American market – for my master thesis. Actually one only needs to take a quick glimpse on www.boxofficemojo.com to realise that Kung Fu is the most popular genre from China. Anyhow, I wanted to find out more about this report. Maybe it could shed some light on what kind of Chinese comedy people liked outside of the domestic market. The comic duo Xu Zheng (徐峥) and Huang Bos (黄渤) two latest films Breakup Buddies (Ning Hao, 2014) and Lost in Thailand (Xu Zheng, 2012), both hits at the Chinese box-office, got poor results in the US but maybe they were popular in Singapore or Taiwan. So I continued to look for the survey.
Except for Coonans piece there seems to be few, if any, articles written about this by a paper not from China. Global Times seems to have the earliest article about the press conference where director of AICCC, Huang Huilin (黄会林), announced their statistics from the report. Coonan writes: “The Academy for International Communications of Chinese Culture conducted the study in nine countries to find out how Chinese movies were received overseas.“. I don’t know where Coonan got this information but according to both Global Times and China News (中国新闻网) the survey was carried out in 5 continents and in a total of 66 countries.
Up to now I still haven’t found any source for the survey but The Chinese Weibo group Screen Traveler (银幕穿越者) has the most in-depth report about it and also adds the suggestions which AICCC has for promoting Chinese film on an international market. For those who wished for suggestions in the like of several 25-word-short-synopsis which could easily be turned in to several box-office hits I would have to tell you go look somewhere else. The suggestions made are that Chinese companies should work together with foreign distribution companies, give support for local films and also to give more freedom for production companies.
A reflection. Kung Fu might be the most popular genre from China and I myself recalled the joy I experienced when watching both Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000) and Hero (Zhang Yimou, 2002) – the latter being a reason for why I started to study Chinese – but renewal within the industry is a must. Lu Chuans film The Last Supper (2012) is according to me one of the best historical dramas ever made in Mainland China. Not only because of the stylistic photo and great acting but also the self-reflecting and self-evaluating manner of the film. Sadly the film didn’t even receive distribution in China. My hopes for a Chinese international hit now lays in this years coming Chinese science fiction films and the adaptation of Liu Cixins science fiction novel Three Body (hopefully the film addresses China’s problematic nature towards the Cultural Revolution and environmental issues, two issues that play a crucial part in the book).