Home>News Center>Life

Chinese cinema toasts to 100 years
By Zhu Linyong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-29 07:28

In the so-called Chinese Blockbuster Age, the country's film industry has plenty of reasons to toast to its 100 years of moviemaking.

Looking into the crystal glass ball, pundits are watching the signs and predicting a promising future despite the hurdles that remain.

"With 100 years behind it, the Chinese film industry is regaining its self-confidence despite setbacks and difficulties of all kinds," said Beijing-based film historian Sun Jianshan. "Looking at its history gives us both good lessons and enough reasons to predict a brighter future for the Chinese film industry."

Chinese cinema is not holding back when it comes to marking its achievements.

As Chinese audiences fill theatres to watch the much-hyped epic "The Promise" (Wuji) and Shanghai romance "Perhaps Love" (Ruguo Ai), a string of lavish celebrations are also being staged for the centenary of Chinese cinema art.

Early this month, a five-day international seminar on 100 years of Chinese film was held in Beijing and attended by about 200 film scholars from around 60 countries and regions.

On December 22, a stone tablet with golden characters was erected at the Daguanlou Movie Theatre, once called Fengtai Photo Shop some 100 years ago, in southern Beijing to indicate the very birthplace of Chinese film art in 1905.

Yesterday, Chinese leaders attended a celebration at the Great Hall of the People to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Chinese cinema art and the local film industry.

This morning, the China Film Museum, said to be the largest in Asia, opens to the public in northeast Beijing.

What's more, between December 25 and March 31, 2006, 100 selected Chinese films produced during the last century are being screened in cinemas across the country to mark the anniversary.

Phenomenal figures

It is an exciting time for Chinese film-makers and for Chinese film viewers.

"The year 2005 marks a third consecutive year of harvest for the Chinese film industry, a decent gift for the centenary of Chinese film," said State Film Bureau Chief Tong Gang, at a news briefing last weekend in Beijing.

Partly due to the enactment of a series of favourable film policies encouraging the inflow of foreign and private money into the film business in the autumn of 2004, the Chinese mainland has churned out 260 feature films in 2005, an increase of 48 over the last year.

Excluding those made by Hong Kong and Taiwan since the founding of New China in 1949, China has turned out a total of 26,300 films since 1905 when the country's first movie was shot and screened, including more than 7,200 features, about 650 cartoons and animations, more than 12,400 news documentaries, about 4,800 science and educational ones, and more than 700 made-for-TV flicks.

On the international front, Chinese home-made films have won 32 international awards, one of the indications of a booming Chinese film industry, Tong said.

A total of 18 homegrown films won 32 international awards in 24 international film festivals in 2005. Meanwhile, at least 26 SARFT-authorized overseas Chinese film exhibitions were held in 2005, with 215 Chinese-made films displayed in 22 countries and regions, he said.

A recent Xinhua report described: "Facing fierce commercial onslaught from Hollywood, the Chinese movie industry advances carefully and optimistically."

Costumed love epic "Hero" (Yingxiong), directed by Zhang Yimou, reaped 1.45 billion yuan (US$180 million) in box office revenue and 30 million yuan (US$3.75 million) in revenue in film tie-in products, including DVDs, stamps and cartoons distributed worldwide.

A Wall Street Journal article said the film had ushered in a Chinese Blockbuster Age. "Chinese films are participating in the international competition by involving themselves in the international mainstream markets," said Beijing Film Academy professor Huang Shixian.

Since the mid-1980s, the Chinese movie industry has gone through a series of deregulating and liberalizing reforms.

"During that time, market prices were consolidated, and the government moved decisively to eliminate restrictions on private ownership," said associate professor Hong Jun-Hao of the Department of Communication at the State University of New York in Buffalo at the film seminar.

"Meanwhile, Hollywood pictures were permitted to be released in China. The industrial structure and market practices created and practised by Hollywood have become the new model for the Chinese movie industry," he said.

In 2004, despite a global market share of 0.9 per cent in box office, the box office revenues in the Chinese mainland hit 1.5 billion yuan (US$183 million), up 60 per cent over the previous year.

And in 2005, domestic box office yields have surpassed 2 billion yuan (US$246.6 million) while overseas box office income has so far scored 1.7 billion yuan (US$209.6 million), and profits from TV showings nationwide scooped up 1.2 billion yuan (US$148 million), totalling 4.8 billion yuan (US$592 million) 1.2 billion yuan (US$148 million) more than that in 2004, said Tong Gang. Tong added that new media such as the Internet screening, mobile phone screening, online games, and digital movie theatres have opened a new gate of fortune for Chinese film-makers.

In 2005, a total of 55 cinemas were constructed with 272 new screens, adding to the existing 2,668 screens in 1,243 cinemas; and the number of film screens is expected to grow rapidly next year as more and more private and foreign investments are pouring into this newfound profitable industry, observers said.

For instance, on December 26, Warner Brothers unveiled its plan to build digital cinemas in the Chinese capital next June, following its ventures in other major Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Dalian, Nanjing and Tianjin over the past three years.

As China gave free rein to overseas investors in its digital cinema sector in July this year, Warner Brothers accelerated its steps to open more digital cinemas in China.

Under the new plan, the US film giant plans to increase its digital projection halls in China to 170 by the end of 2007.

All these new developments are indicating a hard-earned rejuvenation of the country's film industry, critics said.

(China Daily 12/29/2005 page13)

Jackie Chan picks Gao Yuanyuan for new film
Nicole Kidman to wed country singer in Spring
Zhang Ziyi, 'the woman we love'
  Today's Top News     Top Life News

Minister: Information flow will be made easier



Military diplomacy helps development: article



China confirms 3rd human bird flu death



Rural areas 'must be strengthened'



Wang remembered for enhancing ties



Chinese man on the Moon far off


  Family planning policy becomes controversial topic
  Men want action and women value interaction
  Rare sabirds being spotted in Calif.
  Chinese cinema toasts to 100 years
  Female master runs matchmaker website
  College girls choose housemaid as vacation job
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Could China's richest be the tax cheaters?  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.