Bright Future Predicted For China’s Film Industry

Number Of Productions, Star Power Growing Annually On The Back Of Higher-Budget Blockbusters. Can Western Markets Be Next?

He Ping's historical action drama "Wheat" premieres this week at the Shanghai Film Festival. Photo © Xinhua

He Ping's historical action drama "Wheat" premieres this week at the Shanghai Film Festival. Photo © Xinhua

Yesterday, during a seminar at the 12th annual Shanghai Film Festival, critics predicted that the Chinese film industry would continue to grow regardless of the global economic downturn, driven by an increased demand for domestic films at home and the potental for broader distribution abroad. Although the domestic Chinese film industry has had issues since its infancy, due to censorship and underdeveloped licensing and production capabilities, in recent years the industry has become more sophisticated as production value has risen.

As the Shanghai Daily notes, the growing recognition abroad of Chinese talent, from well-known actors like Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi to newer talents like actress Fan Bingbing and director Ning Hao, could help propel the Chinese film industry to greater global appeal.

“Film audiences [in China] usually watch movies either for fun or for inspiration,” said Lu, known for his award-winning film “Kekexili: Mountain Patrol.”

“The industry needs more diverse, medium-budget films in addition to martial arts blockbusters.”

Taiwanese director Wei, whose romance “Cape No. 7” was a box office hit in Taiwan, said new story°?-telling methods would also play an important role in Chinese cinema.

The nation’s movie theaters took in 4.2 billion yuan (US$614 million) last year, a 26.7 percent increase from 2007. The nationwide box office for domestic films was 2.56 billion yuan – more than 60 percent of the box office total.

In the eyes of domestic film producers, the current global financial crisis presents Chinese films with an opportunity to excel.

“The golden decade of Chinese cinema is approaching as the market’s huge potential and lower production costs will drive collaborations between the Chinese and foreign film industries,” said Yu Dong, president of Poly Bona, a Beijing-based film distribution company.

In 2008, China produced 406 feature films. However, many art-house films were not released in cinemas. Without much financial support, there are almost no art-house cinema chains in the country.

Nevertheless, Chinese film makers such as Wang have stuck to the art-house genre for years.

“Movies are not just for entertainment. A good, thought-provoking film will touch the depths of your heart,” Wang said. “The domestic film industry should respect this genre.”

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