Ten Years of Film Market: A History of the Evolution of Audience Values
Image source: @VisualChina
Text | 阑夏, author 丨 Wen Jiajia
The bloody storm of the summer file has finally come to an end.
According to the statistics of the National Film Administration, from June 1 to August 31, the box office of summer movies in 2023 will be 20.619 billion yuan, setting a record for the same period in Chinese film history.
Looking back at the past three months, people have either revisited dangerous relationships because of "Gone Her", or seen the blood behind the scam through "All or Nothing", or saw their own shadow in "Learning Dad"... Domestic reality films have achieved a leap in popularity and are far ahead at the box office.
Ten years ago, people often went to the cinema to enjoy an imported blockbuster, and ten years later, "Manjiang Hong", which was filmed for less than two months and the scene could not walk out of a compound, could lead the Spring Festival file with its adaptation of the real historical plot.
People's preferences for movies have quietly changed in the past decade, and the content output of the film market reflects the change of people's values. Baiyun Cangdog, the tone on the big screen has changed several times.
In the past ten years, the concept of tourism has changed from the concept of love to the concept of love
Human tastes are not the same, and the same is true for movies like and dislike. However, those who can top the box office do represent the views of most people.
On December 12, the "Double 12", which is now locked as an e-commerce promotion festival, released "People in Thailand" written and directed by Xu Zheng in 2012. In addition to winning the box office championship that year, this film pushed the acting careers of starring Xu Zheng, Wang Baoqiang and Huang Bo to another level, and also made Thailand a popular tourist destination. Even the then Thai Prime Minister Yingluck thanked the "Thai" crew, saying that the film had been well promoted for Thailand's tourism industry.
At present, the popularity of movies such as "Disappearing Her" and "Desperate", coupled with real news cases that echo the plot of the movie, not only cast a suspense and dangerous color on Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Myanmar, but also discouraged people's enthusiasm for travel.
In addition to the impact on national and urban tourism, people seem to be less fanatical about Hollywood superheroes, and IP movies that keep releasing sequels sometimes even seem to be released for the sake of release, so the response is mediocre.
From 2013 to 2022, the winners of the domestic annual film box office champions were "Journey to the West", "Transformers 4", "Monster Hunt", "Mermaid", "Wolf Warrior 2", "Operation Red Sea", "Nezha's Demon Child Descends", "Eight Hundred", "Changjin Lake" and "Shuimen Bridge of Changjin Lake".
Among them, only "Transformers 4" is an imported film that has won the siege, and from the perspective of later trends, people are more willing to pay for more Chinese hero films or bloody war films, such as "Wolf Warrior 2" and "Operation Red Sea".
In recent years, other imported blockbusters are also difficult to "wrestle" with domestic blockbusters, and in terms of the films released this year, "Barbie", which has fancy collaborations and discussions on feminism, can be regarded as a small range of out-of-circles. But sequels to classic big IPs such as "Fast and Furious 10", "Guardians of the Galaxy 3", "Transformers: The Rise of the Power Warriors", "Spider-Man: Across the Universe" and "Mission Impossible 7" are almost completely cold.
Although the just-released "Oppenheimer" has the aura of director Christopher Nolan, it is still unknown whether such a film with a certain viewing threshold can be paid for by domestic audiences.
If the favor for tourist locations and the preference for heroic IP are more focused on personal interests, then the changes in the concept of love and marriage in the movie may be more able to glimpse the changes in people's values.
In 1998, when "Titanic" was released in China, it is not an exaggeration to describe it with the word "sensational". At that time, movie tickets were generally around 15 yuan, but "Titanic" was priced between 25 yuan and 30 yuan, which was still full.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are popular all over the streets, and the romantic and moving love story of the two in the film has deceived countless audiences into tears.
So in 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the film was converted into a 3D version and re-released, bringing a new generation of audiences into the cinema, successfully earning 946 million yuan at the box office.
The turning point of word of mouth and box office came this year, on April 3, "Titanic" was re-screened again, but this classic movie encountered a different interpretation. Many viewers complained about the heroine's "love brain" and "princess disease", and complained that the male protagonist was a "junior" and "phoenix man", but he was the villain male number two for more than 20 years, and began to be understood and supported by the audience.
Romantic love is no longer sung, and only when the world is sober exudes attraction.
In the past decade, the film market has been affected by the audience's views on marriage and love, and the ups and downs, the barriers between imported blockbusters and domestic films have gradually dissipated, and the market pattern has almost been completely new.
All kinds of connections in the past are being reconstructed
Changes in viewing preferences are not overnight. The development of entertainment methods such as TV series, variety shows, short videos, and board games has also had a huge impact on consumer demand in the film market. In such a big environment, a popular and good movie is bound to step on the audience's cool point step by step, which is in line with the audience's values.
Although the reputation of "Gone Her" gradually declined after watching the movie, many viewers gave the evaluation of "successful commercial films, failed suspense films", but the film's related topics on Weibo exceeded 5 billion times, and related videos on Douyin were played nearly 30 billion times. Even people who did not enter the cinema to contribute to the box office know a thing or two about the story synopsis of this movie.
In addition to the attention brought by the "Thai cliff falling pregnant woman", the current situation of young people envying the love of other people's fairies while shouting "always single and cool" is also an important factor in its popularity.
In nearly 5,000 valid samples, 95.3% of young people expect a sweet relationship, but if asked whether they expect the right person to come, many people choose to "eat sugar" by praising others' show of affection dynamics, "knocking CP" and other ways.
Young people long for love, but they crave freedom more. When the hot spots before and after the broadcast of "Disappearing Her" focused on the love and killing between the love brain and the phoenix man, the movie had almost pinched the audience.
In addition, how do audiences disenchant Hollywood blockbusters?
Some viewers believe that Hollywood's own quality has declined, and it is not to blame the audience for being ruthless:
"Let me just say it, Marvel's movies in recent years, I don't even bother to pirate them";
"The quality of Hollywood has slipped terribly in recent years, the script framework is similar, you can guess the plot behind the beginning at the beginning, the screenwriter is like doing fill-in-the-blank questions according to the protagonist's situation to modify the difference, this kind of non-nutritious fast food movie is really enough";
"At first, I felt cool when I watched it, but after more than ten years, I still have these tricks, and I inevitably feel that there is a sense of déjà vu of playing cosplay on the big screen"... Such views abound, Hollywood IPs release sequels one after another, but the assembly line products that change soup without changing medicine are no longer fragrant.
Of course, some viewers think that their viewing preferences have changed:
"Young audiences are no longer very willing to pay for American lone heroes, and popcorn movies naturally have no market";
"Let's put it this way, when domestic films were not strong enough in the past, imported blockbusters were like KFC and McDonald's that had just entered China, but over time, the public got tired of eating, domestic films rose again, and their own meals were of course more fragrant."
In fact, no matter who has changed, it is a peaceful breakup with regret.
The values of young audiences are still changing from moment to moment, and how the achievements of domestic cinema films will develop in the future is still unknown, but the all-round structural changes in the film market from content to culture have become very clear, and the past connections between film and television practitioners and audiences will be reconstructed.
The wave-like development of the film market is inseparable from the education of the audience
The iteration of information technology has pushed short videos into the spotlight, making the era of Internet traffic stride forward, so that the film publicity mode has also undergone drastic changes, and the 15-second short video has brought more direct interaction with the audience to the film promotion. Short video marketing engages the audience's emotions all the time, and then drags them to the theater.
But this is only one side of the coin, the other side represents risk. Gimmick marketing shows the audience's preferences speculated by the filmmaker, but what is actually shown in the movie is not necessarily what the audience wants to see. The contradiction between the two lays the groundwork for the future "overturning".
Just like Gu Tianle's "Tomorrow's War" prepared for the release of ten years, although the miserable marketing on the short video platform rejuvenated the box office in the short term, it was quickly disgusted by the audience for such miserable behavior. After all, today's young audiences will no longer easily empathize with stars with a "daily salary of 2.08 million".
Another example is the summer file "Disappearing Her", the short video marketing that was full of appetite before the release "tricked" countless audiences into the theater, but the disappointing movie itself finally got the evaluation of "how attractive the praise before watching it, how much the sense of fraud after watching it".
If you believe in the supremacy of the box office and regard the attitude of the audience before and after watching the movie as a dispensable ear, then the sweetness tasted once or twice may be difficult to last. After the release of "Disappearing Her", the name Chen Sicheng has been prefixed with "five-star tailor" in the hearts of many audiences, and it seems difficult to say whether his next work can become a popular commercial film.
And what kind of cinematic values are encouraged by today's audience?
"The Wandering Earth", which opened the door of Chinese science fiction movies, is counted as one, and "Fengshen Part 1", which "whitewashes" the IP of the Fengshen series, is naturally counted.
On September 2, the news that the box office of "The First Part of Fengshen " exceeded 2.5 billion rushed to Weibo hot search. Subsequently, Bo Yi Kao's actor Yang Jue posted abs photos, Yang Jian's actor This Sha presented a pill head tutorial, and Lei Zhenzi actor Han Pengyi performed a handstand to wash his hair. It is said that it is willing to gamble and lose, but in fact, it is another promotion of the movie.
The movie "Fengshen No. 1" can be described as a typical of first suppressing and then rising, because the "Fengshen " series IP has repeatedly made the audience fall in the past, so at the beginning of its release, "Fengshen Part 1" appeared in the audience's boos. Later, with the well-made film, none of the actors pulling their crotches, and the strict treatment of details by a team of behind-the-scenes teams led by director Wuershan, the word-of-mouth reversal was achieved. Fans not only rebrushed it many times, but also acted as "tap water", which can be regarded as a wild publicity team.
It can be said that the audience said "no" in practice, allowing the shoddy Fengshen IP movies in the past to "hit the street", giving such film producers naked education. But "The First Part of Fengshen re-educated the audience with strength, exporting the concept that "Chinese can have its own mythological epic movie".
The film market is a wave-like development in mutual education with the audience.
Speculating about the audience's preferences is actually a big gamble, and as the main force of moviegoers changes, the values people follow will also change dramatically. But from the core of the market and the work, the glowing film will always be seen, but none of the movies on the street have been wronged.
So what will audiences love in the next decade?