Black Coal, Thin Ice
Interesting but not fully realised whodunit set in wintry northeast China.
White Deer Plain
Potentially epic peasant drama, with a fine cast, is undercut by an uninvolving approach.
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Black Coal, Thin Ice crosses RMB100m
By Kevin Ma
Thu, 17 April 2014, 10:50 AM (HKT)
The Beijing Film Market 北京國際電影節電影市場 opens today at a time when local film-makers are criticising the industry for focusing too much on commercial-minded films at the expense of originality.
Huayi Brothers Media Corporation 華誼兄弟傳媒股份有限公司 announced on 9 Apr that the Berlin Golden Bear winner has passed RMB100 million (US$16.1 million) at the China box office after 20 days on release.
Once the mark of success in the Chinese film industry, RMB100 million is no longer considered high for a commercial film, with some blockbusters achieving that amount in a single day.
However, in an industry where a commercial film can occupy a third of all screenings slots on opening weekend, RMB100 million has often been an unattainable figure for small-scale films.
One previous "art film" to become a hit at the box office was WANG Quanan 王全安's White Deer Plain 白鹿原 (2012). Based on the popular novel, the epic drama — released in a shortened 156-minute version in China — made a surprising RMB133 million (US$21.4 million).
Black Coal was released in China in a slightly shorter edit than its Berlin cut.
While the two major prizes in Berlin played a role in Black Coal's commercial success, it's release was likely greatly helped by distributor Huayi Brothers, which has strong connections with cinema chains.
Black Coal will likely serve as a new textbook case on how small-scale art films can find wide acceptance in China.
International sales are handled by Fortissimo Films.