A Rising Film Industry

Angelina Xu ‘21

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China stands as the world’s number one consumer for a wide range of products, from smartphones to luxuries, and most recently, movies with the country finally allowing the screening of foreign entertainment. Consequently, this makes China the target audience for filmmakers across the world.

Although the Chinese government only permits the annual release of 34 foreign films in China to protect its film industry, 42% of China’s box-office in 2017 was from international films—most of which originated in the U.S—yielding large profits for international studios.

However, this trend reversed in July 2017, when director Wu Jing released Wolf Warrior 2.  While the film benefitted from an early premiere of the annual summer blackout period in which foreign movies are prohibited from being released, it had to compete with a new era Chinese propaganda movie, The Founding of an Army, which had the full support of the government and employed dozens of renowned actors.

Despite the competition, Wolf Warrior 2 not only surpassed The Founding of an Army’s box office but also became the highest-grossing film ever in China just twelve days after its release, eventually hitting $854 million by the year’s end. The film also broke international records by turning into the biggest film released in a single territory in 2017, exceeding Beauty and the Beast’s $504 million. Additionally, it is the third film to pass the $700 million threshold, following Avatar (2009) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

This success is unprecedented for China, and it most likely will not be the last.  As China’s film industry grows, more blockbuster films from the country will begin to dominate domestic theaters, and possibly international screens as well.  As Justin Hong ’21 jokingly says, “It’ll be nice to see more original Chinese films in China, rather than Avengers.” However, this will leave global filmmakers in a frenzy as they try to hang on to a diminishing share in China’s film industry.

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