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The current state of Chinese Cinema



  Adam George

Chinese cinema has a very long and rich history, stretching back to 1905 with the film ‘The Battle of Dingjunshan’. Over the years, Chinese cinema has been used in many different ways, from people having a lot of creative freedom in the early 1920’s, to a propaganda tool in the 1950’s. Recently, China is making an effort to match Hollywood, giving bigger budgets, and finding lots of young talent to push Chinese cinema into a global market.


 China’s film industry is growing fast, in 2012 China become the second largest market in the world for the box office. In 2015 China’s box office grossed more than 44 billion RMB ($6.78 billion). By 2019 China is expected to be the largest market in the world for box office recipients. with the number of screens in China currently over 32,000.

In the early to mid 2000’s, China had a handful of some very commercial successful films. In 2000 ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ directed by Ang Lee, and in 2002 ‘Hero’ and 2004 ‘House of Flying Daggers’ both directed by Zhang Yimou.  Since these films, very few Chinese films have enjoyed any success outside of Mainland China. This has not stopped Chinese films from making huge amounts of money though, In 2012 ‘Lost in Thailand’ made over 1 Billion RMB, ‘Monster Hunter’ made over 2 billion RMB in 2015, and currently the highest grossing film in China is ‘The Mermaid’ which made over 3 billon RMB, which was released in 2016.


The money available to be made in China has caught the eye of Hollywood, as movies that performed badly U.S.A such as “World of War Craft”, and “Pacific Rim” are receiving sequels in the near future because of the success these films had in China, and other Asian countries. “Independence Day: Resurgence”, which was released in 2016, stars a Chinese actress who is unknown to most audiences in the west.

Films that don’t cater towards Chinese audiences have seen disappointing box office returns in China. 2015’s ‘Star Wars’ was a huge critical and commercial success in the west, but saw very disappointing figures in box office revenue in the east. The film very much played on the nostalgia of the original trilogy, which is not widely known in China. Then there are films like ‘Deadpool’ that don’t even manage to get a China release because of the content of the film, missing out on potential millions of Chinese RMB.


Jackie Chan’s ‘Dragon Blade’, which stars John Cusack and Adrien Brody, and 2016’s ‘The Great Wall’, are two recent examples of China also trying to make films that appeal to western audiences. China does, and is willing to found films with larger budgets to appeal to both audiences home and abroad.


Being a massive film fan, and a Chinese film fan. I have a few recent releases that I can recommend. In 2015 I saw the saddest film ever in ‘Go Away MR. Tumor’ with the amazing and beautiful Baihe Bai, ‘The Assassin’ which is a really beautiful film, ‘Goodbye MR. Loser’ is an incredibly funny film with Shen Teng. In 2016 ‘Railroad Tigers’, is very funny movie with Jackie Chan, and ‘Time Raiders’ by Daniel Lee is also a great film.