China may be the first country to see film industry recover from negative impact of coronavirus pandemic: experts

By Chen Xi and Qu Qiuyan Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/27 19:01:55

Photo: Courtesy of the 10th Beijing International Film Festival

China may become the first country to see its film industry walk out of underneath the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese film experts said at the 10th Beijing International Film Festival on Wednesday, adding that Chinese filmmakers are increasingly confident about the industry's recovery.

Chinese mainland box office earned 2.4 billion yuan ($350 million) in the first 37 days of the reopening of Chinese cinemas. The number is much higher than expected and also represents the rising confidence of Chinese filmmakers in the recovery of the film industry, Yu Dong, CEO of Chinese film giant Bona Film Group, said on Wednesday at a festival seminar about opportunities and challenges to the film industry.

Zheng Zhihao, CEO of China's largest movie ticketing platform Maoyan, echoed Yu'sview, saying that based on the current box office, China might become the first country to recover from the negative effects of the coronavirus. He added that he feels the virus crisis will not prevent China from producing good films. 

"Box office over the last week reached almost 950 million yuan, a situation in which the film The Eight Hundred played an important role. That number is just 80 percent of the box office during the same period in 2019," said Zheng.

According to Maoyan, as of Thursday, more than 920 Chinese mainland cinemas, more than 81.3 percent of all cinemas, have reopened.  

Several foreign experts from Russia and the US also attended the forum, sharing details from their lives and work amid the coronavirus pandemic and affirming that the reopening of Chinese cinemas is a sign of recovery.

Anton Megerdichev, Russian director and screenwriter who directed the sports drama Going Vertical, said at the seminar that he has been focusing on editing the film he finished shooting in February, a time before the pandemic spread to Russia. He noted that he is worried that his film might not be able to premiere on its scheduled date since most theaters in Russia are still closed. 

He also expressed his desire to cooperate with Chinese filmmakers, "It would be a huge success to win the compliments of Chinese audiences."

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Chinese director Chen Sicheng, the director behind the Detective Chinatown series of films, also pointed out in an interview with the Global Times that the advantage of Chinese films in the international market is the large number of Chinese moviegoers around the world. 

"In addition to the large population, Chinese moviegoers are also very tolerant. They are very tolerant of different types of films," he said, adding that the Chinese film industry is seeing a trend in which multiple types of films across various genres are being produced, unlike in the US, which mainly produces commercial films for profit. 

Tim Miller, the US film director who directed Deadpool, said that he has been staying in contact with his staff through the internet during the pandemic. He called for joint efforts to overcome the challenges facing the global film industry as well as other industries. 

According to Yu, the production of Hollywood movies may become more difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a decrease in the number of Hollywood movies imported into China. During this time, Chinese film creators should continue carrying forward and resume production as soon as possible to further the recovery of Chinese film markets.


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