The Chinese government wants their country to become the next Hollywood and have even set a target date to achieve this – 2035.
Wang Xiaohui, executive deputy director of the Central Propaganda Department and director of the National Film Bureau, spoke about the country’s cinematic aims at a nationwide industry symposium in Beijing the other day attended by Government officials, film scholars, film company reps and industry associations.
Wang was named the head of China’s film bureau last May, following a major government restructuring, and has grown concerned that the international influence of Chinese film still has a long way to go from being the “big film power” it is now to becoming a “strong film power” like Hollywood.
American films took in about $2.8 billion U.S. dollars in the Chinese market last year, but Chinese films in the U.S. market made only a few tens of millions total. Wang wants to re-balance those scales a bit and has called for the production of one hundred movies a year that each earn more than $15 million US dollars locally. He also indicated that quality is an issue as he says: “our ability to tell stories lags far behind Hollywood and Bollywood.”
Chinese films accounted for a record 62% of their total local box office, however the results are skewed – only 2% of Chinese theatrical releases brought in 53% of the entire total. At the same time 300 out of the 400 movies shown last year in Chinese cinemas brought in less than $150,000 US dollars – hundreds more never made it to cinemas.
Wang reportedly says the 100 films in the target he discussed should be “about realistic topics,” must “equally generate social impact and financial profits,” and have patriotic plots that celebrate the “Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. In addition “filmmakers must have a clear ideological bottom line and cannot challenge the political system”.
The comments come as the country has raised eyebrows internationally recently with the announcement that they will release Oscar contender “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a limited run in China, but at least one minute of cuts will be made to the film to remove portrayals of drug use and male kissing which is in line with Beijing’s repressive stance on content featuring gay characters.
China is also getting over recent scandals involving high-profile actors that resulted in cancellations of releases, the most high profile being the Fan Bingbing tax-evasion case. As a result, a national film industry ethics committee is being set up.
China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” has grossed a massive $655 million at the worldwide box-office since its release a month ago.