Rhino Entertainment Original
Text|Xiaofu Editor|Park Fang
While thinking that live entertainment had become a thing of the past for the Chinese film industry, China Film actually joined the "enclosure movement".
Earlier this week, China Film held a 2022 results briefing, at which it was revealed that the company is preparing to build a Chinese science fiction film park, which will take a series of science fiction movie IP as the core to create a fantasy, adventure, experiential and interactive tourism and entertainment park.
This year's Spring Festival file has just won more than 4 billion yuan at the box office with "The Wandering Earth 2", and now it is necessary to take advantage of the victory to pursue the development of sci-fi movie live-action entertainment. China Film announced at this time that the news immediately won the favor of the capital market, and the next day opened with a price limit.
The "China Disney" that can't be done
Objectively speaking, live entertainment has always been a big cake that the Chinese film industry wants to gnaw but can't move.
Seeing Disneyland and Universal Studios blooming in China, China's movie theme parks have not progressed. There are many companies that hold high and fight, but so far, only Huaqiang Fantawild and Hengdian Film and Television City, which is holding the family animation "Bear Haunted" series, have survived, and the rest of the live-action entertainment industry involved in live-action movie IP has almost completely disappeared.
This is not a lack of market demand.
Throughout the mainland market, it has become the norm for popular film and television works to drive local tourism. From the Hainan tourism fever of "Do Not Disturb" to the Kamakura University Station check-in of "Slam Dunk". At the beginning of this year, the popular "Crazy" also brought a wave of tourism boom in Jiangmen, Guangdong.
In contrast, the domestic film live-action entertainment industry has been lonely for many years.
One of the most representative companies is Huayi Brothers.
As the first leading film company in China to test the waters of live entertainment, Huayi Brothers announced its entry into the live entertainment industry as early as 2011, planning to build a movie theme park with Huayi Brothers movie IP in many cities in China against Disneyland.
In the same year, Huayi Brothers established a live entertainment subsidiary, and successively signed or participated in the acquisition of a number of projects including Mission Hills Huayi Feng Xiaogang Film Commune, Huayi Brothers (Suzhou) Film World, Huayi Brothers (Changsha) Film Town, Huayi Brothers (Jinan) Film Town and so on. Among them, except for the Suzhou Film World project, they are all asset-light models focusing on brand licensing and project operation sharing.
In 2014, Huayi took the lead in proposing the strategy of "de-film simplification". However, after that, the live entertainment, which was placed high hopes by Huayi Brothers, did not become a new revenue fulcrum as expected, followed by endless burning of money and continued weak revenue performance.
On the one hand, due to the few mature series of movie IPs under Huayi Brothers such as "Do Not Disturb" and "Di Renjie" are not attractive enough to teenagers and family tourists, they have lower potential than head theme parks such as Disney and Universal Studios; On the other hand, the slow return of Huayi Brothers' asset-heavy cultural tourism project has also affected the progress of Huayi's asset-light layout.
Then, in 2018, it experienced an "earthquake" and later encountered the invasion of the epidemic, and Huayi's live entertainment industry was even more precarious. Until August 13, 2021, Huayi announced that it intends to transfer its 15% equity interest in Huayi Brothers (Tianjin) Real View Entertainment Co., Ltd., its holding subsidiary. After this transaction, Huayi holds 39% of the equity of Real View Entertainment Company, which is no longer included in the scope of the company's consolidated statements. At this point, Huayi's real-life entertainment dream has basically come to the end of failure.
Head companies like Huayi that started and ended quietly, as well as Light, Bona, Wanda Films, and so on. Behind the failure of the layout of these companies' live entertainment industry, there are cooling of the real estate market and the company's own factors, but in the final analysis, it is still inseparable from the dead hole of insufficient IP support.
A promising sci-fi movie park
This big cake, which has been coveted by the entire Chinese film industry for a long time and rarely moved, can it be gnawed down by China Film?
Maybe now is really a good time.
First of all, when it comes to market scarcity alone, the theme of science fiction movies is full.
Looking at the whole world, live-action entertainment parks with the theme of science fiction movies are rare. This brings strong market scarcity to the upcoming Chinese science fiction film park.
Secondly, compared with top corporate theme parks such as Disney and Universal Studios, or live-action entertainment projects that domestic film companies have bet on, the practical operation of science fiction movie themes is also relatively strong.
First, compared with the fusion of various styles of IP in an amusement park, a single type of theme is easier and suitable for creating a theme atmosphere; Second, although the sci-fi theme is not as popular as those Hollywood animations or "Bear Haunted", the science and education implications of sci-fi elements can also make the core audience of live-action entertainment family tourists gain.
Finally, the sci-fi genre does have good market potential in the Chinese mainland market.
The ace sci-fi movie IP "The Wandering Earth" series in the hands of China Film is known as the top IP that pushes the door to Chinese sci-fi movies. The cumulative box office of the two works is 8.7 billion +, and even derivative peripherals can trigger a rush of sales, such market appeal is enough as a core theme to support this sci-fi movie park.
In addition, there are also Liu Cixin's high-quality works such as the sci-fi comedy "Walking on the Moon Alone", which is also under China Film, and "Three-Body Problem" and "Ball Lightning", which have not yet been filmed in theaters, all of which also have good development potential.
It is worth mentioning that the location of the Chinese science fiction film park revealed this time is located in Huairou District, Beijing, close to the digital production base of the neighboring home film. This means that in addition to sci-fi movie entertainment projects, it can also be integrated into film shooting and production experience projects, which can benchmark the positioning of Universal Studios to a certain extent.
There is scarcity, demand, mature IP, and China Shadow, which is already confident, and it is reasonable to be optimistic about the capital market this time.
However, there are still many hidden dangers behind this.
For all Chinese film companies' live-action entertainment projects, the biggest shortcoming is the insufficient number of IPs, and sci-fi movies are no exception. At present, Chinese science fiction works are still in the period of enlightenment and development, and there are few out-of-the-loop works and few mature works, including the influence of science fiction works on the audience, which may be in a stage of development.
The key point of movie theme parks is that they need to have a sufficient number of series of IPs to support a large number of theme attractions. At this point, Fangte, who relies on TV animation and one Spring Festival animated film a year to continuously expand the content territory of "Bear Haunted", has found his own way to solve the problem. And in the face of "The Wandering Earth" with two films in five years, the layout speed of China Film is not fast enough, and there are not enough cards that can be played in hand.
Moreover, as a company with live-action film IP as the core, China Film does lack successful experience that can be referenced.
Wanda Film, Huayi Brothers and other popular industry leading companies have failed in heavy bets, and the business model of Huaqiang Fantawild and Hengdian Film and Television City is different from traditional movie live-action entertainment projects. For China Film, a company that has been deeply engaged in the film industry for decades and lacks experience in live-action entertainment operations, we don't see much experience advantage in it for the time being.
Live entertainment returns
However, for the grand vision of China's science fiction film park, the industry trend implied by it is more worthy of our attention than judging whether China Film itself is strong enough.
In fact, in addition to the China Film officially announced at the performance briefing, Shanghai Film has also had a lot of related actions in the past two years. As early as 2021, it was announced that it would cooperate with "Tang Tan Fanwai" to establish a cultural and business tourism project, preparing to build a "new Chinatown" in Songjiang, Shanghai, which integrates filming, tourism, consumption and other needs.
Similar actions, the same national character head company, these two points alone, is enough to be valued as an industry signal.
While years of exploration by private film companies have failed, two national film companies have taken the lead in reviving live entertainment. To a certain extent, this action is enough to be interpreted as a signal for the recovery of live entertainment in the entire Chinese film industry.
The bubble era is over, and the return of live entertainment is still the trend.
Will it be the era of state-run film companies?