A good lesson that Hollywood must learn from Chinese audience
Published: Apr 08, 2021 10:42 PM
Screenshot from Sina Weibo

Screenshot from Sina Weibo

Hollywood is getting more confident in the recovery of the US film market after Warner Bros’ monster mash Godzilla vs. Kong scored huge box office returns in early April.

Meanwhile, Hollywood is also eyeing the Chinese market, with offerings including Universal’s action film Fast and Furious 9. However, they should realize that after the deadly pandemic, Chinese audiences have more interest in movies that tell a good Chinese story. 

On Wednesday, Fast and Furious 9 has been announced to be released in China, and the release date is yet to confirm, but it will be released in the US on June 25. Related hashtags quickly trended on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo. 

Some Chinese netizens expressed high expectations for the film, while some complained that the quality of recent films in the franchise have got worse.

James Cameron’s documentary The Six and Marvel’s superhero film Black Widow are scheduled to be released on April 16 and July 9 respectively, and DC comics has produced a new superhero, Monkey Prince, based on the Chinese legendary Money King. Obviously, Hollywood is hoping to earn big in the world’s largest film market.

But looking back to the Hollywood blockbusters in 2020, their box office performance in China was a big disappointment. According to China’s ticketing platform Maoyan, Disney’s Mulan, DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 and Warner Bros’ Tenet earned 278 million yuan ($42 million), 167 million yuan and 456 million yuan, respectively. 

Meanwhile, homegrown Chinese films are getting more popular, which can be seen from the box office during China’s Lunar New Year holiday in 2021 and the Qingming Festival. Chinese feature film Sister, which tackles sibling relationships and patriarchal norms, quickly defeated Godzilla vs. Kong during China’s Qingming Festival holiday.

Meanwhile, the top ten most anticipated films during the China’s May Labor Day holiday are all domestic films, including Zhang Yimou’s first spy thriller Impasse, video game-based fantasy Dynasty Warriors, and adventure suspense film Schemes in Antiques.

Many observers said that Chinese audiences want to watch films that tell a good Chinese story, and the tear-jerking comedy Hi, Mom is a perfect example. The film tells a warm story of a mother-daughter relationship and has grossed 5.397 million yuan as of Thursday, according to Maoyan.

Maybe it is because of the COVID-19 epidemic that Chinese people are turning their eyes more toward their own stories. If Hollywood sill cannot really respect and understand Chinese culture and just randomly mixes some Chinese elements into their films, it will lose a large amount of its fans in China. 

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