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Fans offer more than idol

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-01-18 08:24:04

Fans offer more than idol

In China's burgeoning film industry, fans act as the storm troopers who whip up a storm of frenzy, giving a general impression that the movie has gained mainstream acceptance or even snowballing enthusiasm.[Photo by Wang Xiaoying/China Daily]

Fans play a special role in pop culture and the entertainment industry. Not only do they spend heavily on their idols and evangelize for them, fans often assume the positions of attackers and defenders as if in a blood sport.

Han Haoyue belongs to a consortium of critics who review and score major film releases. When he gave a "Not recommend" to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he expected an army of loyalists throwing mud at him on his micro blog.

He got a pleasant surprise: It didn't happen. "Not a single crazy remark so far," he wrote, "which shows that the Star Wars franchise has Chinese fans who are very mature and rational, perhaps above the age of 40."

In China's burgeoning film industry, fans act as the storm troopers who whip up a storm of frenzy, giving a general impression that the movie has gained mainstream acceptance or even snowballing enthusiasm, engulfing even non-fans and pushing up the box-office tally.

Fans offer more than idol

In mature markets like North America, fans, though small in number, tend to propel word of mouth which, in turn, could stimulate overall attendance.

The problem with fans in China is a quasi-religious zealotry.

When I first criticized Tiny Times, tens of thousands of Guo Jingming's fans swarmed to my micro blog, leaving all kinds of nasty - but often childishly laughable - words. Guo, the writer-director, had won a base of some 10-20 million loyalists through his fiction, most of whom are teenage girls. His public response to my criticism essentially started a call to action.

I was only one of hundreds of critics who lambasted his film, yet I was turned into a symbol of acerbic criticism since he responded to only mine, thus "elevating me out of mass oblivion" in the words of some Guo devotees.

A so-called fan film - one with a sizable fan base, not one created by fans a la fan fiction - is not really a genre like romance or horror. Yet it is a reality any filmmaker has to come to terms with.

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