Related Reviews

  1. Aftershock | 唐山大地震
    Long-limbed drama is surprisingly moving without being a simple tearjerker.
  2. Buddha Mountain | 觀音山
    Loosely-built drama of three youngsters and a retired opera singer is deceptively impressive.
  3. Dear Enemy | 親密敵人
    The China rom-com goes global, with great chemistry between leads Xu Jinglei and Stanley Huang.
  4. Eternal Moment | 將愛情進行到底
    Super-slick Valentine's Day movie misses the natural charm of the TV series that inspired it.
  5. The Flowers of War | 金陵十三釵
    Good-looking but dramatically weak Nanjing Massacre drama, with a miscast Christian Bale.
  6. Flying Swords of Dragon Gate | 龍門飛甲
    Enjoyably retro swordplay antics, with a superb cast but a weak finale.
  7. Go! Lala Go! | 杜拉拉升職記
    Glossy tale of a career girl's rise benefits from actress-director Xu Jinglei's offbeat lead performance.
  8. Lady of the Dynasty | 王朝的女人 楊貴妃
    Stunningly mounted but bloodlessly played drama about imperial concubine Yang Guifei.
  9. Love Is Not Blind | 失戀33天
    Charming, unpretentious rom-com boosted by subtle chemistry between its leads.
  10. Mysterious Island | 孤島驚魂
    Survival-game horror quickie is poorly written but okay on a throwaway thrills level.

Related News

  1. Derek Yee's I Am Somebody to open Shanghai
    China-Russia co-production to close event
  2. Osaka Asian Film Festival fixes largest line-up
    Spotlights on Hong Kong, Taiwan and SE Asia
  3. Fleet of Time clocks John Woo epic in China
    The Crossing opens second-placed in Taiwan
  4. Johnnie To breaks hearts on Singles' Day
    Career-best opening day in Mainland China
  5. Mainland cinema's new maturity
    Films by debut directors among highlights of 2013
  6. Police Story leads second weekend at China B.O.
    Up in the Wind fourth-placed
  7. Korean cinema, Chinese characteristics
    Is the future of South Korean cinema in China?
  8. China's genre revolution
    Uncharted waters of the Mainland's movie renaissance
  9. So Young enters China's all-time top ten
    Local films take 7 of 10 top spots
  10. Bullet, War lead HK Awards nominations
    Close race for top titles
  11. China takes reigns of Horse Awards
    Beijing Blues wins top prize in Taiwan
  12. Marrakech to honour Zhang
    Chinese film-maker rewarded
  13. Mainland films lead Golden Horse race
    Mystery and Beijing Blues shortlisted
  14. Dhoom:3 set as India's first 3-D feature
    Action franchise on giant screens from 2013
  15. Principle selected as HK Oscar bid
    Award winning fable released in Oct last year
  16. Changchun awards 1911
    Ning Hao's Guns and Roses wins three prizes
  17. Resurrection takes China BO record
    Bunshinsaba remake makes $5m in first week
  18. Apple seeks bite of Asian content market
    Legal, virtual stores launch leaves out China, India
  19. Flying Swords to get US IMAX release
    Martial arts picture shot in native 3-D
  20. Asian films make N American progress
    Modern themes connecting with audiences
  21. Simple Life tops HK awards
    Speeches warn of HK industry peril
  22. Unspoiled Brats and Fresh Wave define Udine
    To, Pang and Zhang return for 14th edition of Italian festival
  23. Separation wins Asian Film Awards
    Deanie Ip also continues her winning streak
  24. Flying Swords lifts Bona Group results
    Chinese studio helped by distribution and internet
  25. Zhang flowers as Berlin celebrity
    Chinese mega-hit gets red carpet treatment
  26. Bullets still flying at HK Film Awards
    Films by Jiang Wen and Tsui Hark receive 13 nominations each
  27. White Deer is Berlin's dark horse
    Wang Quanan's epic family drama closes competition lineup
  28. Swords flying on IMAX screens
    Action drama becomes top Chinese giant screen title
  29. Swords joins Berlin competition
    3-D action film gives festival extra dimension
  30. AFA nominations headed by Greater China mega titles
    South Asia titles in supporting role, South Korea almost edited out
  31. Flowers US release brought forward
    New date sets opening before Oscars
  32. Apple has bite of China box office
    Flowers and Swords both cross RMB500m
  33. China box office up 29% for 2011
    Second half growth keeps revenue on upward track
  34. Flowers passes box office milestone
    Zhang epic rates as 2011 top Chinese film
  35. Taiwan distribs queue for China quota
    Flowers, Skin and 1942 among likely recipients
  36. Hong Kong Xmas BO down 20%
    Hollywood sequels occupy top four slots
  37. Flowers widens lead on Swords
    Chinese films dominate China box office
  38. Asian films in scores race
    Six pictures in Oscars chase
  39. Flowers of War wins opening battle
    Updated: Sector 7 takes record as China's highest grossing South Korean release
  40. Asian blockbusters head for Berlin
    Competition's first films unveiled
  41. China BO crosses RMB12b in 2011
    Bale takes on China's leaders as Flowers and Swords go head-to-head
  42. Asia scores in Globe nominations
    Flowers gets pre-Oscar nomination
  43. Wide IMAX release for Flying Swords
    Native 3-D production will have screens to itself
  44. East Meets West tops China BO
    Tintin and Apes cross RMB100m and RMB200m respectively
  45. Love stronger than Steel
    Chinese comedy opens on $30m
  46. Flowers plucked by US newcomers
    Zhang Yimou film to get Oscar qualifying run; director rewarded by APSA
  47. Busan West reveals selection
    Old and new travel to Orange County
  48. Rooster calls for Space Dream
    Patriotism trumps popularity at annual awards
  49. China picks Flowers for Oscar
    Zhang war epic gets token Beijing run
  50. Buyers get taste of Zhang's War
    Footage screened in Toronto
  51. Huayi expands film to TV
    Series to start shooting this month
  52. Flying Swords joins IMAX rush
    Giant screen version to show in 3-D
  53. Zhang wraps Nanking movie
    Christian Bale starring war drama set for Dec release
  54. Zhang sets heroic budget for Heroes
    East West tale has something for everyone
  55. Zhang's Nanjing epic finds sales company
    FilmNation to handle Christian Bale war movie
  56. Beijing Screenings highlights trends
    Lineup includes recent horror, comedy and festival favourites
  57. Production underway on Zhang's Flowers
    Nanjing-set epic features Bale, top tech crew
  58. Zhang brings Bale back to China
    Hollywood star to appear in $90m Flowers of War
  59. IYATO 2 gets Christmas US release
    Romantic comedy in co-ordinated distribution
  60. Golden Horse opens with romance
    Festival includes tributes to Weerasethakul, Kon and Rohmer
  61. Li, Tsui reunite for new Dragon picture
    Production underway on 3-D martial arts action film
  62. Bong, Jia and Côté form Vancouver's Asian jury
    Dragons & Tigers competition announces eight from first-time directors
  63. Toronto adds Asian dozen
    Further top titles added to World Cinema section

Exhibitors make peace with War

Exhibitors make peace with War

By Stephen Cremin

Thu, 24 November 2011, 17:30 PM (HKT)

Industry News

Going to the cinema in China will become more expensive in December after exhibitors agreed to raise the minimum ticket price of ZHANG Yimou 張藝謀's war epic The Flowers of War 金陵十三釵 (2011) to RMB40 ($6.29) in major cities. Previously, the highest minimum price for a local film was RMB35 ($5.50).

December is set to be a crucial month at the Chinese box office after the disappointing National Day Holiday takings two months ago. As budgets soar, Chinese producers are putting increasing pressure on cinemas to return higher box office income to cover their investment risks.

Flowers is one of the year's most-anticipated films in China. It has an official budget of RMB600 million ($94.4 million), the largest in Chinese film history, and stars Christian BALE as a foreigner who saves Chinese lives in wartime Nanjing in December 1937.

In an interview with web portal Beijing Sina Internet Information Service Co Ltd 北京新浪互聯信息服務有限公司 in October, producer ZHANG Weiping 張偉平 (pictured) stated, "In the past, we had to beg the theaters to play our films. But this is a different time now. I will let them beg me to screen the movie because I can guarantee that their screening rooms will be crowded."

But local exhibitors balked at Zhang's demands that they set the minimum ticket price to RMB40 and reduce their after-tax share from 57% to 55%. It was claimed by a media commentator on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog, that the top eight cinema chains had threatened to boycott the film in response to the demands.

After the film was screened to exhibitors yesterday, they agreed to the RMB40 minimum ticket price in major cities but maintained their 57% share after tax. It is estimated that tickets to Flowers will cost as much as RMB100 ($15.71), in what is already one of the world's most expensive cinema-going countries.

Earlier this week, Zhang told, "First of all, we only raised the minimum ticket price by RMB5, so where is the RMB100 price coming from? Second, in terms of revenue sharing, the distributor is taking 45% and the cinemas are taking 55% after taxes. They're taking the majority, yet the risk lies with me."

Zhang argued that audiences should support the ambitions of the local industry with higher ticket prices: "The Flowers of War is the most expensive film in Chinese history. It's 145 minutes long, 40-50 minutes longer than a typical local film. That means this is an enhanced product, which naturally means a higher ticket price."

Producers of TSUI Hark 徐克's 3-D action fantasy Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 龍門飛甲 (2011), who have moved its release two days forward to open head-to-head with Flowers, have themselves asked cinemas in China to return a minimum of RMB35 ($5.50) per admission, a precedent set by local blockbuster Aftershock 唐山大地震 (2010).

Also opening next month is XU Jinglei 徐靜蕾's thriller Dear Enemy 親密敵人 (2011), currently scheduled on 23 Dec. Xu starred in Eternal Moment 將愛情進行到底 (2011), the third highest-grossing local film of the year. Her most recent film as a director, romantic comedy Go! Lala Go! 杜拉拉升職記 (2010), made RMB124.5 million ($19.6 million).

There has been a series of surprises at the Chinese box office in 2011 that has increased producer uncertainty. The number one film at the box office last week is comedy Love Is Not Blind 失戀33天 (2011). It has taken US$45 million in 13 days, outperforming Real Steel (2011) and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011).

Other unexpected hits at the box office this year include drama Buddha Mountain 觀音山 (2010) and horror Mysterious Island 孤島驚魂 (2011), starring FAN Bingbing 范冰冰 and Mini YANG 楊冪 respectively, that made RMB69.3 million ($10.9 million) and RMB90.0 million ($14.2 million) on release in March and July.

Original English translation of Zhang Weiping's statements — and reporting — are by Hong Kong-based industry observer Kevin MA 馬樂民.

Sign up with your email address for our free weekly newsletter: