Four senior film executives reflected on the triumphs and struggles faced by the Chinese film industry in 2021 during a summit Wednesday at the 16th Changchun Film Festival (CCFF).
“2021 has been very difficult for all Chinese cinema workers, and at the same time has been truly unforgettable because we have had to fight the pandemic and face enormous tests,” summed up Yu Dong, president of Bona Film Group. , in his discussion of this year’s Chinese film. walked to the summit forum. The event also brought together several of his peers, including Li Jie, vice president of Alibaba Group and president of Alibaba Pictures; Zeng Maojun, chairman of Wanda Film Group, and Wang Zhonglei, vice chairman and CEO of Huayi Brothers Media.
Yu and his company have achieved many achievements this year, with his war epic “The Battle of Changjin Lake” which grossed 5.77 billion yuan ($ 905 million) and became the greatest film in history. Chinese. It is also the highest grossing film in the world this year.
The film was made in part to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. In the same vein, various filmmakers and studios have also created a series of revolutionary or modern blockbusters such as “1921”, “Pioneer” and “Chinese Doctors”.
“It was remarkable to even be able to finish filming these projects. Against the backdrop of the new normal in COVID-19 prevention and control, theaters have also overcome many challenges and reached an annual total of over 45 billion yuan at the box office. It’s an incredible achievement, and it’s hard earned. Many Western peers admire us, “Yu said.
Li of Alibaba said the annual box office total reached well beyond their initial projections, with Alibaba-owned Lighthouse a box office tracker and big data platform predicting a total of only 40 billion yuan at the beginning of this year. “This is very exciting news. With all the offline industries of the real economy suffering, the Chinese film industry has made a rare triumph and shows a stubborn vitality that is even stronger than live performances and movies. stage dramas, ”Li said.
However, Li added that he observed that the Chinese market suffers from uneven and insufficient development. Compared to the previous two years, this year’s box office hits relied more on major productions and film seasons.
“By my estimate, about 15% of the movies contributed 85% of the revenue this year. For example, the three behemoths -“ The Battle of Changjin Lake, ”“ Hi Mom, ”and“ Detective Chinatown 3 ”- together made 15 billion yuan, accounting for one-third of the annual box office total, and they are all released during major profitable film seasons like the Spring Festival and National Day holidays, ”Li said.
In contrast, smaller films were harder to find and there were few new blockbusters during the non-holiday seasons, making movie attendance lukewarm or even reduced. This trend, he noted, creates problems for the production and distribution of new films.
Wang Zhonglei agreed, saying practitioners of cinema should take responsibility for this problem. “As going to the cinema has not yet become a standardized offline consumption habit in China, film professionals should make more efforts to present high-quality movies continuously,” he said, suggesting budgetary control and reasonable allocation of resources for diverse and quality works as well as reasonable arrangements of release dates and distribution channels for films of various genres and sizes. He added that more mid-size blockbusters are expected to be released outside of the holidays.
In addition, Yu Dong pointed out some important data on the changing demographics of moviegoers: “So far, Chinese cinemas have received 1.12 billion admissions. But in 2019, it was 1.73 billion. It’s down. And the average age of moviegoers this year is 29. In 2019, the average age was 21.7, which means we’re losing a younger audience. “
Zeng Maojun said mobile phones, apps and short video platforms are affecting the film industry. But he toyed with the idea of turning cinemas into entertainment complexes, incorporating increasingly popular live role-playing games, sports game broadcasts, concerts and plays to attract more consumers. , especially young people. “Since the films are shown and promoted in the same place, they can go to the theaters after the other entertainment is over,” Zeng added.
Zeng said he has confidence in the Chinese film market in 2022 and expects the box office total to reach 55 billion yuan. “After one or two years, the Chinese film market will return to its pre-pandemic level of 2019 and even better.”
“It is only when we produce more and better works for audiences that we can create a fundamental path for our film industry to gradually recover and become a strong film powerhouse in the world,” Yu concluded.