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China Screen Press. May_June Issue


China shuts biggest pirate site.                                              Back to CSP Articles

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

Apr 26 2013 Beijing Times 京华时报by Wang Sheng

China has closed, the country’s biggest pirate HD video download website that started ten years ago growing to 1.4 million registered members. Eight company directors including the CEO have been detained on Intellectual Property Right infringements.

Registered members download pirated films from Siluhd paying 50 RMB (about USD$8) per month, with more than 30,000 members online at any time.

Thirty employees also face detainment for uploading pirated films more than 50,000 times. (Under Chinese law, films may be uploaded or downloaded for private non-profit purposes, but selling them without rights ownership is illegal. Ed.)


Group purchase changing China screen exhibitors market

Apr 27, 2013 Business Value 商业价值by Sun Tong

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

Group purchase of cinema tickets from specialist websites is changing the exhibition market in China. Group purchase offers cinema-goers discounted prices for tickets that helps exhibitors better plan income and session capacities.

In January and February of 2013, more than 16 million of the 100 million people buying movie tickets around the country did so by group purchase on line, spending around USD$72.5 million.

In Shanghai, over 30% of movie tickets were sold on-line by group purchase.

Release companies often organize activities through group purchase. Recent box-office hit Lost In Thailand organized two preview test screenings to assist its early marketing, with all quickly sold-out from one website (US style market research test screenings are at an embryonic stage in China’s screen industries. Ed.)


China’s new films overtake fifth generation, challenge Hollywood

May 6 2013 Beijing Youth Daily 北京青年报By Xiao Yang

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

After the success of Lost In Thailand, low-budget local newcomers Finding Mr. Right, and So Young have provided high returns earning RMB500 million and RMB400 million respectively since April.

Their success proves that Lost In Thailand was not a one-off, and that the dominance of fifth generation directors is making way for a new generation of more commercial directors.

Over the past ten years, Chinese audiences looked forward to new masterpieces from fifth generation directors that had brought Chinese cinema to world attention as the Cultural Revolution ended, but were disappointed with style-rich but story-poor epics such as House of Flying Daggers (2004), The Promise (2005) and The Flowers Of War (2011). These films had reasonable foreign success, but were less successful amongst more culturally nuanced local viewers.  

Directors of contemporary, lower budget dramas such as the Beijing set Love is Not Blind (2011) and Lost In Thailand (2012), are crushing old rules and building closer connections with audiences.

The old school of self-obsessed directors and agonizing audiences is disappearing, as Chinese films grow up. The dramatic increase in national cinema screens is giving new directors a broader space to work.

The unthinkable has happened with low budget domestic films repeatedly defeating Hollywood blockbusters, and providing proportionally higher returns for investors.


Younger audience driving box-office

May 8 2013 Beijing Youth Daily 北京青年报by Xiao Yang

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

In just one average week in May, China’s cinema box office earned around USD$148 million.

According a new survey of Chinese comedy films by Beijing Normal University released yesterday, younger audiences are leading this movie consumption.

In China’s largest centers of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou, the average movie-goer is about thirty years of age.

The report also shows that word of mouth is important, with a third of Lost In Thailand’s audience attributed to acquaintance referral.


China’s five film industry ailments

May 16 2013 腾讯网by Ma Yue-ran

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang.

QQ reporters suggest that China’s film industry suffers from five main ailments.

1. Only one-third of domestic films actually make it to screen. Of the 745 films produced in China in 2012, only 231 were seen by audiences. Some failed through too little investment to advertise or even finish post-production. Some were simply made for company promotion or official records of achievement.

2. Investment and box-office income data is opaque. Multiple channels of reporting from competing stakeholders tend to inflate stated returns from films.

3. The market is in disordered state with theaters concealing box-office income. Conservative estimates suggest that theaters conceal 20% of box-office income, with some analysts estimating that some theater managers can earn RMB1 million a year, most of it as gray income.

4. The overwhelming majority of film income is from box-office alone, not other media windows, so the risk for investors is huge.

5. Because China lacks a formal film classification system, many films are forbidden after production is complete.


China’s first art-house circuit launched

May 17 2013 Nan Fang Du Shi Bao 南方都市报

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

May 13. Art-house cinema chain Rear Window announced its first screening program today, with plans to establish China’s first art film theater chain.

A Rear Window spokesperson said they want to build a complete production and releasing path for Chinese art films.

The group plans to release through 20 theaters by the end of 2013, and 60 by the end of  2015. Rear Window’s major support comes from an online selling platform and movie fan groups in many cities.


Zhang Yi-mou joins LeTV

May 28 2013 Mtime 时光网

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

May 28. LeTV’s CEO Zhang Zhai today announced director Zhang Yi-mou has joined LeTV to direct the opera Aida.

       Zhang Zhao and Zhang Yi-mou


Cloudary Establish Screenplay Company

Apr11 2013 腾讯网By Le Tian

China Screen Press summary by Yan Zhang and Ian Lang

Cloudary will invest USD$163 million to boost its subsidiary the Cloudary Screenplay Company.

The money will be used to invest in contracted writers’ works, to pay monthly wages to writers, and to invite famous writers to training contracted writers.

Beside earning wages for writing, contracted writers can also share revenue from their works.