Commentary: Chinese films should aim at broader global market
By Ryan Yaoran Yu
People's Daily app


Past February set a landmark for Chinese box office performance. With over $1.58 billion in box office sales, it set a new world record for the highest monthly sales in a single market. The boom was largely driven by local films, with Hollywood staying on the sidelines.

We have solid reasons to hail it a success, but we need to be aware that Chinese box office still relies on domestic support.

Over the past decades, though the Chinese movie industry has made ice-breaking achievements in Hollywood, Kungfu movies are still regarded as the main genre created by the Chinese film industry.

In the 1960s, Bruce Lee introduced Kungfu movies to Hollywood, which shaped the image of Chinese men in US movies to some degree. Subsequently, the presence of Chow Yun Fat and Jet Li in Hollywood reinforced this image.

However, Chinese filmmakers are trying to turn the tide in recent years. The movie ‘Marco Polo’ marks a good start for this change. Featuring Chinese cultures in a Westernized narrative, the movie depicts Chinese ancient culture from a foreigner’s perspective.

Chinese drama and movies are gaining popularity in many neighboring countries, like Vietnam and Thailand.

The Chinese drama, "Saga of Wu Zetian," is about the life of China's first empress. It was broadcasted on Vietnamese television in 2015, and soon became a hit in local communities.

Although Vietnam is experiencing multiple changes at present, it is heavily influenced by Chinese culture still.

Since Chinese movies and actors are suffering from low recognition in Hollywood, it is time for our filmmakers to set eyes on the China-sphere countries, to expand the influence of Chinese drama and movies to these countries.  

Movies like ‘My Fair Princess’,  ‘Monkey King 2,’ ‘From Vegas to Macau,’ ‘Mermaid,’ were screened during the Lunar New Year holiday in February in Vietnam, and all of them received a warm welcome by local audiences.

With a history thousands of years old, China is rich in cultural heritage and legend. Confucius and Laozi have earned a worldwide reputation. Tripitaka, a Buddhism master, is worshiped and honored by Buddhists in many countries. China is never short of historical icons, we just need to bring them alive on the screen with creative minds.

With the rapid development of Chinese economy, ambitious Chinese filmmakers are setting their sights on breaking into the Hollywood market, it is a good thing to set up a high bar for Chinese movies, but why can’t we achieve success in Asian markets first?

By gaining success in the Asian markets, the Chinese movie industry will gain more experience to target its products at global markets, including Hollywood.