Copycat? Or not?

When I began college in China, I decided to learn oral English from the very famous TV show, Friends. My first impression after having watched the show, was that Americans are very into film, and expressions like “wanna see a movie?” or “I’m going to see a movie, wanna join me?” were used almost as frequently as “How are you?”. Then, after having noticed the love for film in The States, I assumed that all U.S. citizens were very rich, since it was very expensive and considered a luxury to watch a movie at a theater in China at the time.

Two years ago, when I came to the U.S. to study, I found that I was half right. It is true that the majority of my American friends find it entertaining to talking about on-air movies, but I quickly realized I was wrong about assuming all U.S. citizens were rich just because they went to the movies. It turns out that movie tickets were not as expensive as I imagined, especially with the student discounted price of $6 – $7 dollars/movie.

I personally love watching movies. After having seen so many well produced films from Hollywood, I couldn’t help but wonder what is going on in the film industry across the Pacific Ocean — in China.

Before China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, only 88 films had been made on Chinese land. Under the WTO agreements, 20 foreign films were allowed to be imported per year and foreign cultural enterprises were allowed to enter the Chinese market by establishing joint ventures, with a shareholding of up to 49 percent. About10 years later, the number of China produced films surged to 526 in 2010, and domestic box office revenues rose 64 percent to a record of 10.17 billion Yuan ($1.6 billion) according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

The boom of Chinese culture industry has been closely linked with the expansion of cinemas, and more cooperative opportunities with overseas film producers and global film studios, especially those from Hollywood. Hollywood studios have a very developed process of making films. Tips for the success include, but are not limited to, exciting scripts, famous actors, advanced technology, in addition to a wide distribution and consistent marketing. However, is it considered a success if the Chinese film industry is simply copying that of Hollywood?

The answer is NO. Facts show that Hollywood republications made for Chinese audiences felt unrealistic and ‘over fancy’. Only those with a superb plot were highly rated and got positive feedback.

There are certainly gaps between Chinese cultural enterprises and their overseas counterparts, however, with the first Chinese film company to go public on the Nasdaq, Chinese are not only committed to producing high-quality Chinese films, but also devoted to distributing them well. Hopefully, in the near future, Chinese movies could be a channel for the world to learn more about this country with its 5000 years of history and its splendid civilization and culture.