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2014-07-08    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

It's all about making a spectacle

The new Transformers movie is breaking records left and right, but not everyone is happy about it.

Transformers: Age of Extinction, which opened in China on June 27, has been making waves at the Chinese box office. Its midnight opening screenings raked in 20.8 million yuan ($3.35 million), trumping the previous high of 13 million yuan set by Iron Man 3 a year ago. Its first-day tally of 196 million yuan nudged aside The Monkey King, which, just six months ago, grossed 122 million yuan on its first day of release. The new Michael Bay movie also set a new record in one-day sales with 214 million yuan.

Other records broken by Transformers 4, as it is popularly known in China, include: 63 percent of all screens for a single day, a record previously held by Feng Xiaogang's Personal Tailor (58 percent); and 614 million yuan in first-weekend grosses versus 468 million for the 3-D version of Titanic.

But this second number is more significant if compared with its US first-weekend total, which is $100 million according to Boxofficemojo, a website that counts box-office figures for all US films.

Factoring in currency conversion, 621 million yuan means the movie's performance in the United States seems to be slightly better than in the Middle Kingdom. But if 630 million yuan, a figure used by China Film News, a more official source, is chosen, its China performance actually edged ahead.

We do not need to quibble about such small discrepancies. All figures point to the undeniable popularity of the movie in China. Yet, in its home market it is not even considered a good popcorn movie for the summer season.

On Rotten Tomatoes, a US website that aggregates film reviews, it got only 17 percent positive reviews, and even audience members who liked it added up to just 60 percent. In comparison, China seems to be made up exclusively of "fans of loud, effects-driven action", to quote the website's definition of the blockbuster's target audience.

That was making Chinese regulators of the film industry quite uneasy. Just before it opened, Zhang Hongsen, director of film bureau under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, admonished China's film exhibitors, telling them not to get carried away with excitement. Left to their own devices, he said, they would have given over all their screens to this one movie, which he said would be "irrational".

What Zhang had in mind is the ratio of contributions from domestic versus imported films.

Early this year, Chinese films were beating foreign competition hands down, pushing box-office numbers from domestic films comfortably past the half-way point and almost to 60 percent. In recent months, the overall ratio has been in precarious balance and now the latest installment of this Hollywood franchise is expected to tip the scale far in favor of imports.

From the perspective of a film critic, my concern is that the euphoria over setting new records is sending the wrong message to the public, i.e. only spectacle-oriented blockbusters are good movies. It does not really matter whether it is a Chinese release or one from Hollywood. The Monkey King is a terrible film and even its special effects are of poor quality. However, it made more than 1 billion yuan during the year-end holiday season.

The biggest irony in this round of face-off is worthy of a black comedy.

While Chinese film companies moved the schedules of their new releases to avoid a head-on collision with the Hollywood juggernaut, Enlight Pictures decided to tackle the beast with a screwball comedy. It put The Breakup Guru, a directorial debut by actor Deng Chao, in the same opening slot.

Everyone said this would be suicidal, but surprise, surprise, it returned 150 million yuan during its first weekend, a very respectable performance for this genre.

Wang Changtian, CEO of Enlight Media, explains that people had underestimated the power of the smaller cities where moviegoers have a special affinity for this kind of low-brow comedy. The high growth of new screens in recent years is concentrated in this market segment.

Coincidentally, this movie was attacked by a cultural authority who went to a preview. He says it is so tasteless and low-brow it should not qualify as a comedy.

Come to think of it, the best defense against a Hollywood blitz is not a quality film made in China, but a low-brow comedy that appeals to the basest of your laugh instincts. If you expand the vista to the past year or two, it is quite clear that the high growth of China's film market is correlated to the lowering of quality.

Not only is art-house fare relegated to the peripheral, but even quality drama helmed by A-list directors, such as Zhang Yimou's Coming Home that failed to reach 300 million yuan at the box office, is not enough to provide a semblance of counterweight for the barrage of trash hurled our way.

If you want to make a great drama film with no effects and no slapstick, wait a few years, say, 10 years, as I would often suggest to those who consult me.








在美国影评网站“烂番茄”(Rotten Tomatoes)上,只有17%是正面评价,喜欢该片的观众数量也只有60%。相比之下,中国观众似乎都是由“喜欢喧闹的特效打斗场面的影迷”组成,这也是该网站对该片目标观众的定义。













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