As Hollywood declines, Chinese cinema is on the rise

As Hollywood declines, Chinese cinema is on the rise

A record was broken for the most films watched during China’s Spring Festival. In the history of domestic film, it was the most grossing Chinese New Year holiday ever.

The Chinese Film Administration said that 163 million tickets were sold throughout the holiday week of 10 February to Saturday 17 February, grossing 8.02 billion yuan ($ 1.12 billion). It revealed that revenue climbed by 26.36 percent over the same time previous year. The comedy picture “Yolo,” starring an overweight woman who wants to be a better person, took first place with a box office gross of 2.72 billion yuan (around $400 million).

According to a research from Maoyan, China’s largest ticketing service provider, 39.2 percent of the audience purchased movie tickets while traveling or returning to their hometowns, the highest rate in four years.

Another essential piece of information is audience dispersal. According to the survey, third- and fourth-tier cities contributed 58.9 percent of total box office revenue, rather than large cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

In 2012, seven of the ten highest-grossing films in China came from Hollywood. Last year, not a single US film made the list of the ten highest grossing films in China.

According to the New York Times on 23 January 2024, none of Hollywood’s blockbusters were among China’s top ten highest-grossing films for 2023. This is the second time in the last 30 years that not a single US film has made the list.

In 2023, the Chinese film market generated 55 billion yuan (about $8 billion) in box office revenue, with domestically made films accounting for 83.77 percent. This was the pinnacle of the previous four years. In comparison, international films made a total of eight billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in the Chinese market.

The decline of Hollywood cinema in China is not limited to the top ten films.

In 2023, the highest grossing film worldwide was Barbie with $1.4 billion, while China’s contribution was only 252 million Yuan ($35 million).

While the Super Mario Bros. film ranked second with a gross of $ 1.3 billion, China’s share in this is recorded as only 171 million yuan ($ 24 million).

On the other hand, Chinese films such as “Full River Red” and “The Wandering Earth II” by famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou ranked seventh and eighth worldwide.

According to Maoyan, Hollywood films have declined from 2019 to the current situation.

While the Covid-19 pandemic may have contributed to the fall in 2023, this trend coincides with the US government openly targeting the Chinese technology and economic sectors and designating China as the principal enemy.

China surpassed the US as the largest film market in 2019 with an impressive total box office revenue of $9.2 billion. This success is attributed to government support, the rise of domestic blockbusters and the increasing number of cinemas across the country.

China’s lengthy history and rich culture give an ideal setting for telling captivating stories that resonate with viewers all around the world. China’s film industry capitalizes on this opportunity, producing films in a variety of genres, including historical dramas and romantic comedies.

The Chinese government also plays an important role in promoting and fostering the film industry. Policies such as the extension of the foreign film quota in 2012 and the formation of the China Film Group Company have fostered collaboration between Chinese and international filmmakers, allowing for the exchange of knowledge and resources.

China’s film industry is quickly flourishing, and its international significance is increasing. Chinese films are now receiving accolades at prominent film festivals throughout the world.

The average age of Chinese cinema-goers is found to be around 30. Increasing economic and social development and urbanization in China have contributed to a more mature sense of national identity. Chinese citizens prefer themes reflecting patriotism and humanitarianism.

In recent years, from the Chinese point of view, Hollywood blockbuster films have failed to bring a sense of novelty, in addition to the bombardment of visual spectacle, and have only offered boring series, leading to aesthetic fatigue.

The reason for the disappearance of Hollywood films from the market is not, as they claim, “ultra nationalism”. However, the situation in China shows the opposite, Chinese audiences’ interest in foreign films is on the rise.

It can be interpreted as evidence of the Chinese people’s aversion to Japanese cinema. In 2023, Japanese films like “Suzuya’s Journey” and “The First Slam Dunk” had a huge success at the Chinese box office.

Suzuya’s Journey became the highest-earning Japanese film ever in China, grossing over 807 million yuan ($112.7 million) at the box office.

After experiencing a financial crisis at home, the US film industry has established enormous studios aimed at the Chinese market, focusing on generating soap-bubble spectacles with shallow but visually dazzling effects that are intended to appeal to international viewers. However, with the Chinese market restricted, Hollywood is expected to face an even worse economic problem.

Hollywood’s power brokers are increasingly recognizing that they cannot rely on China to continue “American superhero” sequels, big-budget action and other costly productions, the New York Times reported.

New York-based cultural magazine Vanity Fair described on December 20th 2023 as “the year that broke Hollywood” as it struggled with strikes, layoffs and shrinking budgets. The magazine wrote that the American film industry has “lost its sense of direction.”

The collapse of Hollywood deprives the United States of its most powerful psychological warfare outfit. One of the most crucial indicators of a multipolar world is the decline of the United States’ intellectual dominance.

Chinese cinema, just like China itself, is growing in confidence and becoming more and more influential with what it has to offer. The Chinese film industry does not aim to hegemonize the cinema of other countries like Hollywood, but emphasizes sharing what it has with the rest of the world.

The demise of Hollywood is a positive development for humanity. Because a new style of movie is emerging that blends respect for nature, love for humanity, sharing, sacrifice, spectacular historical events, and rich culture, while also utilizing advanced technology to its maximum potential. The growth of Chinese film is one of the most important indicators of Asian civilization’s rise.

Adnan Akfırat

Adnan Akfirat is former representative to China and Member of International Relations Bureau of the Patriotic Party of Türkiye; Chairman of Turkish-Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association (Turk-Cin Is Der); visitor researcher of Shanghai University Turkish Studies Center and Shihezi University Silk Road Research Center. Mr. Akfirat has been living in Shanghai since 2011.

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April 2024