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China Focus: Domestic blockbusters add vitality to film market

XIAMEN, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) — Domestic blockbusters, especially ones that reflect China’s mainstream values, stood out when the 35th Golden Rooster Awards winners were announced on Nov. 13, 2022.

These films, labelled by experts as “new mainstream films,” not only embrace solid mainstream values, but also share the entertainment value and artistry of commercial films and have achieved impressive box office results.

New mainstream films have grand narratives that represent major historical events, such as the founding of the Communist Party of China. They can also depict ordinary people, reflecting characters’ shared destiny with the country, such as the patriotic series — “My Country, My Parents,” “My People, My Country” and “My People, My Homeland.”

New mainstream films have led the National Day holiday box office for four consecutive years. This year, the film “Home Coming” has garnered about 70 percent of the National Day holiday box office. Based on real events, the film depicts the perilous journey of two Chinese diplomats taking 125 overseas Chinese through desert and artillery fire to flee a war-torn country.

In recent years, new mainstream films with good reputations have paid more attention to presenting both the flaws and growth of the characters, and such heroes who are also ordinary people undoubtedly better meet the audience’s viewing needs, said Liu Xiao, a director. “As shown in ‘Home Coming’, diplomats will also experience fear, pain and struggle when faced with life and death choices.”

Huang Jianxin, director of “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” is an active participant in the creation of new mainstream films. Over the past decade, he has been the director, producer or screenwriter of several such films, including “The Taking of Tiger Mountain,” “Operation Mekong” and “My Country, My Parents,” which were also well-received by Chinese moviegoers.

Huang has witnessed the rise of new mainstream films on the domestic movie market. Chinese films need to express and celebrate the basic mentality and aspiration of the nation, he said.

“I feel that the relationship between Chinese people and films has become closer and closer, which has set higher requirements for film creation,” Huang said. These films are new in their loyalty to history, their audio-visual language innovation and their upgraded production level.

Only films that audiences love to watch can win both public praise and box office success, Huang said.

Wu Jing, a famous actor who has worked on several new mainstream films, has played many characters who are popular among audiences.

“Whether it’s a military figure, courier or chef, these people come from all walks of life and they are dear and respected in China. As actors, we should show the most genuine feelings and the lives of ordinary people through these characters,” Wu said.

Zhang Aigong, associate professor at the School of Film under Xiamen University, said mainstream value means audiences can see a projection of themselves in the characters of a film, or that a film shows the power of truth, goodness and beauty, which reflects people’s simplest sentiments and value judgments.

A report released during the 2022 China Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival noted that the exploration of new mainstream films and the enrichment of film types are important achievements of China’s film industry and add vitality to China’s film market.

According to statistics released by the China Film Administration, China nabbed top spot in the global box office chart in 2021, with its revenue for the year surpassing 47.2 billion yuan (6.67 billion U.S. dollars). Domestic blockbusters were the mainstay of the recovery from the impact of COVID-19, accounting for approximately 84.5 percent of the year’s total box office takings.

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