Movies' Midas touch


Xu Fan

( China Daily )
Updated: 2015-10-02 09:02:05

Movies' Midas touch

Tom Cruise and Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, attend the Shanghai premiere of Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation.[Photo provided to China Daily]

This year's Spring Festival season champion, The Man from Macao II, wound up in the sixth slot with 974 million yuan, while another Spring Festival favorite, Dragon Blade, dropped to 10th with 744 million yuan.

Unlike most of the blockbusters boasting megastar casts and big budgets, such as The Man from Macao II with Chow Yun-fat and Dragon Blade with Jackie Chan, the seventh-largest-grossing film, Monkey King: Hero Is Back, shocked the insiders as one of this year's most surprising dark horses.

With fewer screens and limited marketing, the domestic animated flick grossed 956 million yuan, replacing the Japanese hit Stand By Me Doraemon to surge to the top as the all-time highest grossing animated film in China.

The recently released espionage thriller Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation takes the eighth seat with 820 million yuan, closely followed by The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with 766 million yuan.

More major movies are crowding cinemas during the golden National Day Holiday week, raising insiders' hopes for a cash bonanza in the coming weeks.

For most of the industry insiders, the "lipstick effect" has become a frequently talked about theory to explain China's booming market, which stands in contrast to the lethargic overall economic picture globally.

The concept, coined in the West, is based on the idea that women spend more money on affordable items as substitutes for luxuries during times of economic uncertainty.

"Historical cases from the world's major markets show that the movie industry enjoys support during the times of economic downturn. And it's similar for China," said Cheng Jiaqi, managing director of Fundamental Films, a Shanghai-based company that has a close connection with Hollywood and European studios.

When the country's economy experiences slower growth, its moviemakers prosper-a theory borne out by the average annual growth rate of more than 30 percent over the past five years.

"Stressed by inflation and rising living costs, people start to find that going to the movies has become an affordable, comparatively inexpensive form of entertainment," said Cheng, who predicts the 2015 box office will reach 42 billion yuan based on the titles to be released in the next three months.

"Having fun at the cinema can let people shake off worries over career struggles and daily life pressures, which may explain why comedy has become such a popular genre in recent years."