Chinese Films: Tell China's Stories Well, Going Global Fast
Updated: 5 24,2023 Source:China IP News

In recent years, the Chinese film industry has been on a fast track to industrialization while hastening its steps to the international market. Industry insiders recently gathered at a side event of the 13th Beijing International Film Festival, co-sponsored by the festival organizer and China Film Archive (China Film Art Research Center), to share their wisdom on these issues.

Honing quality products

Three Chinese films, The Wandering Earth II, Hidden Blade and Full River Red landed in North American theaters right after their premieres in China during the Spring Festival film season, and would win both the viewer critics and box office there.

A factor instrumental in dictating Chinese films' outbound journey is the quality of film contents. "Contents is King" is a tenet preached by filmmakers. A good script allows a film to travel further. Fu Ruoqing, Chair of Board and General Manager of China Film Corporation could not agree more. He emphasizes that a good film must excel in quality and share universally-accepted empathy and values, which are the fundamental conditions for Chinese films to go global. For example, the reason that The Wandering Earth II has done well in the oversea market is on the one hand, the market size of science fiction films has always been enormous; on the other hand, the film itself is a mega production. His further analysis shows that the production of the film employed strict quality control and constantly refined content details. One thing in particular - the value of a community with a shared future for mankind portrayed in the film easily struck a chord with oversea moviegoers.

In addition to production, distribution is another important part crucial for films to go global. Fu goes back to example of The Wandering Earth II. Chinese producers' usual practice when it comes to oversea distribution is partnering with promotion companies run by oversea Chinese, entrusting them to promote and distribute their films. The Wandering Earth II, however, chose an oversea professional distributor, who are more experienced in promotion, screening slot arrangement and market planning, all of which impact the box office directly. The choice would be proven right by facts. One month after its oversea premiere, the film was still on in some theaters. As of now, it has amassed over 100 million yuan in oversea box office.

Refining outbound route

In recent years, Bona Film has produced multiple blockbusters like Battle at Lake Changjin and Hidden Blade. Chair of Board Yu Dong has his own thinking of Chinese films' going global and staying there. He believes a key symbol indicating a country's successful shift from a volume film maker to an influential one is that domestic films dominate the domestic market. In China, homemade films have been maintaining occupation of over 60% of the home market for over 10 straight years.

While working intensively at the domestic market, Yu has his eyes on the oversea market too with his firm's multiple films exported through copyright trade. He summarizes Chinese films' going global experience into a three-step tactic: First, cultivate international partners. Invite global businesses to Beijing. Let them see and select Chinese films at the Beijing International Film Festival. Second, intensify international cooperation. Collaborate with foreign film makers, invest together and share distribution channels with them and finally enjoy profits together. Third, nurture proven international film seasons. This is the most important step for Chinese films to truly integrate into the international market. The Spring Festival film season, in particular, is a golden opportunity for Chinese films to go global. Our Chinese film professionals shall all work towards making this season flourish. In the meantime, Chinese films' going global shall prioritize IP protection. "Taking heed of copyright protection can guard our films' outbound journey, allowing our films to travel faster, wider and longer," He adds.

Chinese director Lu Chuan is behind many modern classics like Beijing 2022, Mountain Patrol, Born in China, The Last Supper and City of Life and Death. Among them, both Mountain Patrol and Born in China paint pictures of the contemporary China and was shown overseas. Born in China itself hauled in 14 million U.S. dollars at box office in North America.

Regarding how to use films to tell Chinese stories right and spread traditional culture, Lu is not shy of ideas either. At the production stage of City of Life and Death, it took him and his team two and half months just to translate English subtitles. He invited a British filmmaker to translate the script sentence by sentence. Tremendous efforts were also put into the drafting of the English script for Born in China to ensure quality. "When I heard the laughter from parents and children in a theater, I felt very relieved. At that moment, I knew only a good work can get into people's hearts. In my future creations, I will only make quality films and use them to tell Chinese stories right," Lu concludes by making his statement.

Born in China

The film tells the story of three families of rare Chinese animals: The panda, the golden monkey, and the snow leopard. It showcases China's unique rare animals, rich and diverse natural landscapes.

Hidden Blade

The film focuses on the treacherous hidden front, telling the story of underground workers risking their lives to send intelligence and defending their motherland with their lives and blood.

Full River Red

The film blends various elements such as history, suspense, comedy, and tells the heroic story of a group of small characters who use their lives to play against treacherous ministers one after another.