Men in uniform, be more uniform

This week and last weeks news about Chinese film has been overshadowed by the box-office results of Wu Jings (吴京) action film Wolf Warriors 《战狼》. The movie premiered last thursday (2 april) and has already entered the list of 100 most watched film in China as number 80. Compared to other domestic films box-office results for the first two weeks Wolf Warriors has a chance of being one of Chinas most wathced films ever if the hype surrounding the film continues. Tsui Harks The Taking of Tiger Mountain 《智取威虎山3D》from last year is the leading Chinese war-action-drama in China in regards of box-office figures.

War movies has always had a special place in Chinese cinema and television market, especially stories about The Second Sino-Japanese war. One of China’s, supposedly, most watched film Tunnel Warfare 《地道战》(dir. Ren Xudong) is about this war but it seems that the love for War of Resistance-stories (抗日剧) has now reached it’s peak.  SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television) announced this week that: “We need to firmly control the content of TV-series about the Second Sino-Japanese war and not allow the distribution of series that are overly entertaining”. Wang Hui (王辉) Vice-director of Capital Radio & TV Program Producers Association (首都广播电视节目制作亚协会) explains that the sudden appearance of this new policy is because of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the victory over Japan in 1945. Wang further explains what SAPPRFT means with “overly entertaining” (娱乐化): “For example is using a rifle for shooting down an airplane too much of entertainment. Because in real life this would be impossible”. One of the examples of “unrealistic action” is referred to The Anti-Japanese Knight 《抗日奇侠》a series which author Murong Xuecun also mentions as an reason for “Chinese people having an unfavorable view of Japan”.

Too entertaining or not while some soldiers gets too much attention others hardly gets any at all. The newly started Lei Feng channel (雷锋频道) started broadcasting at the 25th of March from Lei Feng’s “second home”, Fushun in Liaoning province. Lei Feng was a soldier who died in an accident at the young age of 22 and who posthumously was emulated all over China for his good deeds and his unselfish spirit. The news program shown at the channel, called Sunshine News 《阳光资讯》, basically only shows “positive news, positive events and positive examples”, says producers Zhang Xiuli. Shang Zeyou, head of Fushun city’s broadcasting station, elaborates on the reason for this: “Once people has received praise for their good deeds even if they wanted to stop they can’t. That’s the way people are.”. If you read Lei Feng’s diary you’ll notice that he himself advocated that the best hero is a nameless hero.

The great era of state subsidies are over so in order to survive on the market one must know how to attract an audience. Miss Know-how (懂小姐) tells how one could go about doing this purely by giving a film the right premier date. In it’s simplicity the article suggests that one should show romantic movies during Valentines day and horror movies during the Ghost Festival (七月半). The most favorable period is during the Spring Festival and the coming The Monkey King 2 was announced, almost a year in advance, that it would be shown at Spring Festival 2016. Miss Know-How further explains that the success of Wolf Warriors is mostly because it’s being shown during the Qingming Festival and also that it has weak opponents. Director and actor Vicky Zhao has also shown that knowing how to manipulate the premier dates is vital for ones movie. She supposedly persuaded the distribution authorities to push forward the premier of Iron Man 3 so that her movie So Young could open up without any major competition.

It seems that the latest big budget China-US co-production film Outcast 《白幽灵传奇之绝命眺望》didn’t chose a good day for it’s premier. The reason for low figures on the box-office has probably more to do with a faulty story than with the wrong premier date. Even though it stars Nicolas Cage, an “old friend of Chinese audiences” (over 17 of his movies has premiered in China), the movie is being mocked for it’s childish story and for showing “same old stuff”. The movies is being blamed for missing the ingredients of being a Hollywood blockbuster film: “The only thing that makes this a Hollywood-film is that they speak English from time to time”.


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