In 2023, the Chinese film market recovered strongly. The total box office of this year's Spring Festival file exceeded 6.7 billion yuan, ranking second in the Spring Festival file in Chinese film history, and many films achieved applause and popularity. Masterpieces such as "Manjiang Hong", "The Wandering Earth 2" and "Nameless" have successively gone out of China for large-scale overseas distribution, and even tried to be released overseas simultaneously, allowing the world audience to feel the unique charm of Chinese films.
How can Chinese films tell Chinese stories and spread Chinese voices well? Recently, the 13th Beijing International Film Festival successively held two thematic forums: "Film Power Industry Forum - Telling Chinese Stories Well in Film Language" and "Film Power International Cooperation Forum - Promoting Civilization and Mutual Learning with the Bridge of Light and Shadow", inviting heads of film institutions at home and abroad, well-known filmmakers, industry experts and scholars to gather together to discuss the new path of international expression and international exchange and cooperation of Chinese films.
Use the international discourse system to tell China's story well
The Film Power Industry Forum discussed a very urgent issue: how to use the international discourse system to tell China's story well? Around this question, filmmakers at home and abroad gave the answer, Chinese films must "go global", must walk "on two legs", one is the commercial level, how to establish a better and more global distribution and publicity network; The other is content creation, how to tell the same story to different audiences, how to reconcile the uniqueness and commonality of culture.
Fu Ruoqing, chairman and general manager of China Film Co., Ltd., said of the global distribution strategy of "The Wandering Earth 2", "This release chose an overseas professional distribution company. "In the future, China Film will consider deepening cooperation with large professional distribution companies in the United States such as Disney and Warner to ensure the publicity effect of the film in overseas markets."
In January this year, "The Wandering Earth 2" was released simultaneously in 8 countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, and met audiences in 39 countries or regions. While the local box office performance is outstanding, the overseas box office has exceeded 100 million yuan. Fu Ruoqing introduced that the idea of simultaneous overseas release in the creation stage of "The Wandering Earth 2". "The Wandering Earth 2 is a hard sci-fi production, and we are very confident that we can establish ourselves overseas. The values of a community with a shared future for mankind embodied in the film can resonate in the process of overseas dissemination. ”
He said frankly that China Film and other production and distribution companies rooted in China are currently facing the problem of insufficient overseas distribution paths, methods and practices. "The question before us is how to tell China's story well with the international discourse system." Fu Ruoqing stressed that only when films have internationally recognized emotions and values can they truly "go out".
Since 2008, Bona Film has successively launched many high-quality masterpieces such as "Changjin Lake", "Operation Mekong" and "Operation Red Sea" overseas, constantly broadening the path for Chinese films to go global. Yu Dong, chairman, founder and general manager of Bona Film, said that the market share of Chinese films in the Chinese film market exceeds 60%, and China is already a film country, but from a film country to a film power, it is also necessary to improve the international distribution capacity, export and radiation capacity of domestic films.
According to Yu Dong, the overseas distribution of Chinese films can be divided into three steps: the first step is to cultivate international buyers, invite global buyers to participate in Chinese film festivals, and learn about and select Chinese films; The second step is to promote international co-production, pre-sale and investment first, and bundle the film party in advance; The third step is to create a mature international schedule, such as promoting the global synchronization of the Spring Festival file and promoting the real integration of Chinese films into the world market, "just like Hollywood creates Christmas and summer files." At the same time, Yu Dong called for the establishment of an overseas intellectual property protection system, which requires the joint efforts of global production and distribution associations.
Director Lu Chuan has participated in the creation of many films that have entered overseas markets. Among them, the documentary "We Were Born in China" had a box office of nearly $14 million in North America, once ranking at the forefront of the box office in North American nature documentaries. The film is co-produced by the United States, China and the United Kingdom, and produced by Disney Pictures, telling the growth story of China's wild animals. In Lu Chuan's view, Chinese films can use world channels to "borrow ships to go to sea". He said that Disney provided a strict creative plan in the early stage, "I was very impressed, the release date was determined when the contract was signed, and it was completed according to the specified time node." The post-promotion is even harder, and almost all the screens of offline stores are scrolling to play trailers. ”
Florian Heinkel von Donnasmark
German director Florian Henkel von Donasmark, whose works such as "Masterless" and "Eavesdropping Storm" are world-renowned, shared his experience of resonating with global audiences - to be faithful to the cultural background of the country, especially to present the national elements in detail, this is the first step; At the same time, these elements need to be able to make people responsive.
Strengthen international cooperation to help Chinese films "go global"
Chinese films sailing to the sea are inseparable from international exchanges and cooperation. At the "Forum for International Cooperation of Film Powers-Promoting Mutual Learning of Civilizations with the Bridge of Light and Shadow", the guests discussed topics such as film cultural exchanges and international cooperation, and shared the practice of film to promote international exchanges and cooperation.
As a pioneer in China's film and television entertainment industry "going global", Huayi Brothers opened a precedent for cooperation with international film and television companies as early as 2000. Wang Zhonglei, co-founder, vice chairman and CEO of Huayi Brothers, said that the main forms of international cooperation and exchange of film are to display the films of a region through film festivals and exhibitions to understand the local culture and life; Second, from the perspective of the market, through co-production films, taking into account market returns, cultural exchanges and value communication.
Wang Zhonglei said that at present, Chinese films have entered a new stage and are also facing new challenges, and cooperation with surrounding countries, close neighbors, and countries along the "Belt and Road" will help open a new round of cultural mutual learning. He also mentioned that 2023 is the year of film restart, and hopes to promote educational cooperation and talent cultivation by building an international exchange platform, promote exchanges and mutual learning, and inject more vitality into the Chinese film market.
Yang Xianghua, president of iQIYI Film and Overseas Business Group, said that iQIYI's layout in international exchange has gone through three stages, the first is to bring in excellent foreign films, "In the past decade, the team has gone to many overseas film festivals to purchase, most of which are directly broadcast on iQIYI's streaming media platform. "The second step is to go global," "Since 2019, iQIYI has established sites in Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, and North America, and more than 190 countries can download the iQIYI App to allow foreign audiences to see Chinese movies. "The third step is to promote international cooperation in filming, especially in Southeast Asia, to find suitable scripts, shoot and broadcast locally. He believes that the Internet is another channel for Chinese films to enter overseas markets. "We originally thought that the people watching movies on the iQIYI platform were overseas Chinese, but in the end we found that the vast majority of users were not Chinese but foreigners, for example, in the United States, 90% of iQIYI's audience is English-speaking."
The "Detective Chinatown" series directed by Chen Sicheng and the "Manslaughter" series produced by Chen Sicheng have been filmed in Thailand, the United States, Japan and other places, both of which are successful attempts by domestic films in international cooperation. At the forum, Chen Sicheng revealed the latest progress of these two IPs. He said that the new work "Detective Chinatown 4" may have major adjustments, "I want to tell the story back and shoot a 'Tang Detective' in 1900", planning to build a Chinatown in a certain city in China. As for "Manslaughter 3", Chen Sicheng said that he is still considering filming abroad.
The Sino-US co-production film "Megalodon" is a successful test of the waters of Sino-US co-production, and when it was released in 2018, the film received 1.053 billion yuan at the domestic box office and 3 billion yuan in the global market. At the forum, Zhao Fang, president of Warner Bros. Discovery Group China, revealed that "Megalodon 2" has now completed filming and is expected to be released globally this summer. She shared the experience of Chinese films going overseas from the perspective of publicity: For Chinese-language films, first, it is best to choose the Spring Festival file. "The Spring Festival is an important festival for Chinese people around the world, and there is not much competition from English films in this schedule." Second, allow enough time for publicity. "It generally takes more than half a year to publicize overseas markets, and in some countries, each theater can choose its own film to screen, and the distribution team has to talk one by one, and also has to make a lot of materials for local audiences." She revealed that the overseas distribution of "Detective Chinatown 3" had suffered losses before, because a dispensable shot in the film was set as an R-rated film, which greatly limited the audience. As for Chinese-foreign co-productions of English-language films such as "Megalodon", the story and genre are more important, "modern or future stories with universal global values can avoid differences in culture, belief, and history." In terms of genre, big-budget sci-fi themes are more likely to succeed on a global scale. ”
"In the past two decades or so, we have opened the door to international cooperation, and now we want to keep the door open for film." Yin Hong, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University, said that it is necessary to continue to deepen cooperation in creation, marketing, production, distribution and promotion, so that Chinese films can go out and foreign films come in, jointly develop the international film market, and promote mutual learning among civilizations.