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Chinese film market booms this summer

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Moviegoers get their tickets from vending machines in a cinema in Shanghai, July 26, 2023. (Photo by Wang Chu/People's Daily Online)
Moviegoers get their tickets from vending machines in a cinema in Shanghai, July 26, 2023. (Photo by Wang Chu/People's Daily Online)

The Chinese box office is extraordinary and unprecedented this summer. Multiple domestically produced films sparked waves of buzz as genre films reached new heights.

Gong Kanning in Beijing took her child to the animated film “Chang An” featuring some of China’s most well-known poets. She told People’s Daily that the audience in the cinema erupted into a standing ovation when the film ended, with some even reciting Tang Dynasty (618-907) poems.

Zhou Kun, a resident in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, watched the inspirational comedy “One and Only” with his child. While leaving the cinema, the child said that he had developed an interest in learning street dance.

The above scenarios are just common this summer.
According to the China Film Administration, China’s box office revenue this July reached nearly 8.72 billion yuan ($1.22 billion), a significant 25 percent rise from the previous July record of 7.02 billion yuan set five years ago.

As of Aug. 6, the total summer box office revenue this year had hit 14.68 billion yuan, increasing 24.02 percent from the same period in 2018 and 20.01 percent from 2019.
These figures boosted industry confidence. Insiders estimated that the rebound of the film market would continue this August, with a high probability of shattering the summer box office record set in 2019.

“This summer’s hits, spanning various genres and topics, are showing an impressive quality leap from previous years, and have effectively sparked moviegoers’ enthusiasm,” said Professor Yin Hong of Tsinghua University.

These films are expected to make the movie market bigger and lead it to a vicious cycle, he added.

One notable highlight is the record-breaking market share of China’s homegrown films this summer, which have won critical acclaim and popularity with their quality. Their exploration beyond the boundaries of conventional genres represents a significant advancement.
The animated film “Chang An” focused on the fine traditional Chinese Culture.

“We wanted to create a story about the Tang Dynasty, about poetry and about the ideals and pursuits of poets, to showcase the spirit and artistic accomplishments of poets in the Tang Dynasty and their works,” said Xie Junwei and Zou Jing, directors of the film.

It is learned that 48 classic poems are presented in the film, and the production team consulted over 100 relevant books to study the folk culture, poetry and aesthetics of the Tang Dynasty. The film represents a breakthrough in both topic and artistic expression.
Chinese fantasy epic “Creation of The Gods I: Kingdom of Storms” is adapted from Chinese novel “Fengshen Yanyi,” or “The Investiture of the Gods.”

It carries rich Chinese cultural elements and its industrialized production standards rival world-class levels. The movie marks the rapid progress of China’s film industry.

Suspense thriller “Lost In The Stars” opened a brand-new narrative model. Its producer Chen Sicheng said that the movie creates information asymmetry for the audience, hoping to improve the audience’s engagement. So far, the movie has surpassed 3.5 billion yuan in box office, the highest among all summer hits this year.

As a sports movie, “One and Only” has expanded the boundary of its likes. Its director Dong Chengpeng noted that the movie is inspirational for everyone, though it is themed with street dance.

It hails ordinary people’s passion for the things they love, Dong added.
Sci-fi action film “Meg 2: The Trench” is co-produced by teams from both China and the United States. It manifests the Chinese nation’s traditional caring for the nature.

In addition, films like “Never Say Never” and “No More Bets” continue Chinese movies’ tradition of focusing on realistic matters by incorporating social issues into their narratives. These movies carry profound social significance, evoking resonance and empathy from audiences.

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