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China may save global cinema from final curtain, expert says

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-21 08:30
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Audiences check into a cinema to watch My People, My Homeland in Shanghai on October 1. China box office hit 3.92 billion yuan ($599 million) during this year's National Day holiday (October 1-8). [Photo by Chen Yuyu/For China Daily]

Film sector recovering after challenging year and could write a script for other countries to emerge from the downturn that caused such box-office havoc.

Approaching the end of the unusual year of 2020, cinemas in some major markets in Europe and North America have had to close again or delayed resuming operations for the foreseeable future.

Overtaking North America to top the world's film market in terms of yearly box-office receipts from late October, China's film industry has seen a slow recovery. Hauling in a total gross of 17.9 billion yuan ($2.73 billion) as of Dec 18, less than 30 percent of the 64.1 billion yuan earned last year, domestic filmmakers are still struggling to survive this industrial "winter".

Nevertheless, Dai Jinhua-a Peking University film scholar who has published dozens of academic books, with most of them being translated to various languages including English, French, Italian and Spanish-believes China could be the last hope for the survival of world cinema.

"COVID-19 has been going on for nearly one year with no end in sight. Its impact on global cinema is inevitable and unprecedented," Dai tells China Daily on the sidelines of a summit organized by Tencent to explore the boundary between science and culture in Beijing.

"If the Chinese film industry could maintain (normal operation), world cinema will have a chance of survival. If the Chinese film industry is going to decline, the global film industry will be on the brink of death, which, I'm afraid, may never be reversed," she says.

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