Chinese cinemas trial on-screen viewer comments

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-8-28 23:24:28

Viewers posting real-time comments on screen during a film is something that could never have been anticipated by the Lumiere brothers, the world's first filmmakers.

Nevertheless, "bullet screen," or "dan mu" in Chinese, which allows viewers' typed comments to zoom across the screen like bullets, is an emerging craze on online video sites in China and Japan, where it is popular mainly with the young for its social interactivity.

And now Chinese cinemas have been inspired. After a theater in Shanghai bullet-screened animated film "The Legend of Qin" earlier this month, there have been similar screenings of other movies, including "Tiny Times 3.0," a hit among teenagers.

People commenting out loud during a movie has long been a bugbear of cinema-goers. With bullet screen, however, typing comments becomes part of a kind of game. All it takes is a mobile device that can connect to a wireless local area network.

Huang Leide, a viewer who has watched the bullet-screen version of "Tiny Times 3.0," said he saw streams of messages during the screening that not only included opinions on the plot and characters but also dating invitations, advertisements and a request for help finding a phone charger.

But some argue that cinemas should not be offering bullet screenings, and that the trend is ruining serious cinema.

"It truly can reduce one's loneliness when watching a movie, but only poorly made movies and videos should be shown in this way," said someone with the screen name "Anladashen" on, a question-and-answer website.

The new trend, though new to many film fans, has been popular for several years on and, two bullet screen video-sharing websites. has accumulated more than five million registered users since its foundation in June 2009. Sometimes, messages are so dense that the whole screen can be blocked.

Bo Xiaolian, a movie critic, said that bullet-screen movies are catering to youngsters' needs to find others to identify with. "It is their own way to say goodbye to traditional movie watching."

Though bullet-screen movies are still small in number, some producers are tapping them to pull in audiences. Shen Leping, director of "The Legend of Qin," said that there would be more than 100 showings of the film in the bullet-screen version before its official opening.

By mid-August, "The Legend of Qin" had garnered some 60 million yuan (9.76 million US dollars) in ticket sales.

Shen had high expectations for the new trend. "People used to watch films in a worship mentality, now with bullet screenings, we are giving viewers an opportunity to interact with filmmakers," he said.

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