Box-office takings wilt in the heat of summer.
But falling seasonal returns could be blessing in disguise for the industry.
This time last year, as many as three Chinese films were crossing, or nearing,
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This season, not a single competitor is in sight.
According to the official figures of China Box Office, a State-run analysis company, the nation’s cinemas opened the all-important summer season with a faint glimmer of hope, which promptly faded against all expectations.
In the 27th week of this year－July 4 to 10－box office receipts rose by 12 percent before falling by 45 percent and 35 percent respectively in the next two weeks.
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“This could be a blessing in disguise,” said La Peikang, chairman of China Film Group, the largest State-owned film business.
“China’s film market has scored big in recent years,” he said. “All kinds of capital has been pouring in, and some of it carries with it unsavory elements, which have led to some disturbing behavior. I call it a bubble, and the market is squeezing some air out of it.”
La quoted the saying, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked,” adding that what is left will become a healthier and better
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After years of hesitation, China Film Group is finally scheduled for a public listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It plans to sell 467 million shares and raise 4 billion yuan.
Cold War II, the star-studded Hong Kong crime thriller, has been one of this season’s biggest hits.
But grossing 666 million yuan at the box office since opening on July 8, it has no chance of reaching the 1 billion yuan goal, let alone the 2.4 billion yuan milestone of Monster Hunt set by the same film company, Edko Film, last summer.
You could argue that the above two movies come from different genres, but Big Fish and Begonia had Monkey King: Hero Is Back in mind when it debuted on July 8. Both are animated features with visual flair.
Last year, the mischievous monkey almost reached the 1 billion yuan mark, but
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“Big Fish has not lived up to my expectations in terms of box-office performance,” said Wang Changtian, president of Enlight Pictures, which made the cartoon feature. “But its quality is higher than I expected. Had it been Youth Nike Personalized Dallas Cowboys Elite Throwback Navy Blue Thanksgiving Jersey released last year, it would have made the billion-yuan league.”
Wang attributed the shortfall to the ending of subsidies, adding, “What’s happening this summer is a return to normal and we should readjust our box-office expectations accordingly.”
Rock Dog, another animated feature with similar ambitions, fared even worse, earning just 39.5 million yuan.
China Film Group’s Tik Tok raked in only 77 million yuan, a figure that could have been three times higher had it been released last year, according to La, the company chairman.
The biggest irony is that this thriller received overwhelmingly positive reviews, but word-of-mouth failed to lift it out of the doldrums, a feat accomplished by last year’s Monkey King: Hero Is Back, which had a rags-to-riches rise among strong competition.
La offered this assessment of the market malaise.
Many parts of the country have been plagued by stormy or rainy weather this summer, he said, which had affected audience numbers. As a popular saying among film exhibitors goes, strong winds drive away half of the house and a rainstorm empties it all.
According to La and other industry insiders, a more deep-rooted cause is the disappearance of subsidies.
La said box-office growth had started to slow as early as March. While the film industry had been subsidized for a while, the release of Ip Man 3 pushed it to
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