It's all about making a spectacle

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-03 07:14:34

It's all about making a spectacle

Transformers: Age of Extinction wins great success in China's market since its premiere on June 27. Photo provided to China Daily

It's all about making a spectacle
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On Rotten Tomatoes, a US website that aggregates film reviews, it got only 17 percent positive reviews, and even audience members who liked it added up to just 60 percent. In comparison, China seems to be made up exclusively of "fans of loud, effects-driven action", to quote the website's definition of the blockbuster's target audience.

That was making Chinese regulators of the film industry quite uneasy. Just before it opened, Zhang Hongsen, director of film bureau under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, admonished China's film exhibitors, telling them not to get carried away with excitement. Left to their own devices, he said, they would have given over all their screens to this one movie, which he said would be "irrational".

What Zhang had in mind is the ratio of contributions from domestic versus imported films.

Early this year, Chinese films were beating foreign competition hands down, pushing box-office numbers from domestic films comfortably past the half-way point and almost to 60 percent. In recent months, the overall ratio has been in precarious balance and now the latest installment of this Hollywood franchise is expected to tip the scale far in favor of imports.

From the perspective of a film critic, my concern is that the euphoria over setting new records is sending the wrong message to the public, i.e. only spectacle-oriented blockbusters are good movies. It does not really matter whether it is a Chinese release or one from Hollywood. The Monkey King is a terrible film and even its special effects are of poor quality. However, it made more than 1 billion yuan during the year-end holiday season.

The biggest irony in this round of face-off is worthy of a black comedy.

Related: Love it or hate it, Transformers will have you transfixed

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