China to pick 5,000 movie theaters to screen propaganda


Wed, Feb 14, 2018 - Page 5

China plans to select 5,000 movie theaters to screen propaganda films and will boost their box office with group sales, discounted tickets and other financial backing.

The notice from the nation’s film regulator said the policy is intended to promote specific movies at special times to create a “people’s theater front,” a throwback to language used during the era of Mao Zedong (毛澤東).

In keeping with the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s latest initiatives, the policy intends to “guide thought and educate the people,” said the statement, which was stamped on Jan. 30.

Copies of it were yesterday posted to Chinese Web sites that cover the entertainment industry.

The number of theaters accounts for about 10 percent of China’s total, with quotas issued for each major city, province and autonomous region.

China, the world’s second-biggest film market, saw movie ticket sales rise 13.5 percent last year to more than US$8.6 billion. Chinese-made movies accounted for 54 percent of ticket sales, with baldly nationalistic action thriller Wolf Warrior 2 (戰狼2) topping the box office.

The ruling party routinely manipulates ticket sales and movie release dates, including limiting the number of foreign films that can be shown and banning them entirely for certain periods.

That helps pump up sales for domestic productions, although patriotic themes do not always win out. Recent successes have included films glorifying materialism and complex interpersonal relationships, such as the Tiny Times (小時代) series.

As part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) ideological drive, the party has also sought to crack down on Internet content deemed frivolous or immoral.

That includes online games, such as the Japanese hit Travel Frog, although the denouncements appear to have done little to dampen public enthusiasm for them and the authorities are eager to keep the Internet open as a conduit for business.