Films about the life of Lei Feng, a role model for selflessness in China, showed no box-office appeal on Tuesday, Lei Feng Day.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said on Monday that all film companies and cinemas need to try their best to promote three recently released movies featuring the iconic Lei Feng.
SARFT said the screening of these movies plays an important role in promoting Lei's spirit and educating the public about the virtue of doing good deeds.
However, many cinemas canceled the screenings because few people bought tickets. Some cinemas played the films to near-empty houses.
They still kept it in the schedule in case anyone showed up.
The three films about Lei Feng's life, Youthful Days, The Sweet Smile, and Lei Feng in 1959, were screened on Monday and Tuesday, as part of the learning from Lei Feng activities.
Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong's call for the country to learn from Lei Feng. Mao's famous slogan stirred generations of do-gooders.
Lei was a young soldier known for his selfless devotion to helping others, he died at age 21 in 1962.
"We planned to show Youthful Days twice a day from Monday, but had to cancel all of the screenings as nobody showed up to buy tickets," a staff member surnamed Liu, at a box office of a cinema in Liaocheng, Shandong Province, told the Global Times Wednesday.
Another cinema in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, told the Global Times that the same situation happened for its screening of The Sweet Smile.
"We did screen the film twice a day but had only about 10 people in the audience each time. We will still keep screening it because it has such a positive and educational theme, which I think is good for our society," a staff member in the marketing department of a cinema in Huaian, Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times.
"I think the poor box office result doesn't mean society has forgotten the spirit of Lei Feng, because you can still see a lot of people doing good deeds, such as getting involved in charity and volunteer work," Zhang Yiwu, professor and deputy director of the Cultural Resources Research Center of Peking University, told the Global Times.