Quality of Chinese streaming films on the rise though during the pandemic era: experts
Published: Aug 12, 2021 06:22 PM
Promotional material of Biubiubiu Photo: Courtesy of Youku

Promotional material of Biubiubiu Photo: Courtesy of Youku

New action drama movie Biubiubiu broke a record for a film on a streaming platform after it earned a high 8.3/10 score on Chinese review platform Douban following its release on Chinese streaming platform Youku on Friday. Chinese experts are saying that the high reviews are a sign that the quality of Chinese streaming films is improving though during the pandemic era. 

Biubiubiu tells the story of e-sports player Xiao Han as he takes part in a million dollar e-sports competition in order to keep custody of his son. While the film is about e-sports, it has an interesting twist in that it has the actors act out their game roles in live action scenes, making their play sessions seem more like an action war film than a movie about video games. 

According to Beacon, a ticketing platform under Alibaba Pictures, as of Thursday afternoon, Biubiubiu has earned 14.78 million yuan ($2.29 million), making it the highest-earning film of the week on the platform. The film is free to Youku's VIP members.

Many moviegoers have complimented the film for its themes of familial love, dreams and passion, saying "the quality of Chinese homegrown streaming films is improving," and that the "spring" for Chinese streaming films has arrived.

At a media press conference for the film, Biubiubiu's two directors for the film, Hu Guohan and Zhou Siyao, said that they held the production to extremely high standards: All the actors underwent military training to learn how to move and handle weapons, while special effects post-production for the film took a year and a half.

"As a director, I have the same standards in filming streaming movies or theater movies. I always try my best to do everything well no matter what kind of film it is," said Hu. 

The two also revealed that a sequel is already in the works, and it might be premiered through the theaters with a better story. 

"The greatest value of this film is that it is an encouragement to all streaming filmmakers," said Li Jie, head of the movie business at Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group. 

Data shows that in 2019, 638 new streaming movies were launched online, down 56 percent from 2018, but their themes were more diverse and quality greatly improved. Meanwhile, 2019 saw 32 works earn a total of more than 10 million yuan, an increase of 10 percent from 2018, CCTV reported.

However, Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times that the studio's behind some high quality films, epic films or big budget films will still choose to head to cinemas as there is more potential revenue to be earned there.

For example, Korean War epic The Battle at Lake Changjin scheduled to be premiered on August 12 has been postponed due to the current pandemic situation. 

"The films on streaming platforms are usually those that do not have much chance to perform well in cinemas theaters but might do well on streaming platforms, thus, the two distribution channels are complementary to some extent," Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times.