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Just Let It Fly One Day More (III)


Hi Art April Issue, 2011

The investor of Let The Bullets Fly Ma Ke, a rich second generation from Shanxi province, promotes the film that Jiang Wen strived to make a great success on box office earnings on which he put nearly 100 millions into in the way like selling coal. Propaganda started two months before the release of this film and he selected the channels with highest audience rating from the 26 municipal TV channels all around China to broadcast the advertisement of this film. Only inside the fourth ring road of Beijing, he paid for the advertisement on 1500 billboards. And Ma Ke himself also goes to office buildings every night to see whether their advert film is on show; in his own words, peoples would see Let The Bullets Fly on television at home, on screens in the streets, elevators and office. In the public screening in the end of the year, production group pasted 100 thousand posters, 500 film copies and 3000 digital copies in all cinemas no matter big or small all around China; moreover, two weeks after the public screening, namely when Feng Xiaogang’s The One 2 was on show, they launched the Sichuan dialect version of Let The Bullets Fly and hoped to show in Sichuan for more than 6 months. Actually this is count two films’ box office earnings as one.

Film, together with stage play and oil painting, are all imported things that without origins in China, the value standards are also in the West all along. We have always been like doing homework as primary school students and never know whether the homework has been well done or not when finished; we need evaluation and scoring from others. Since film appeared in China one hundred years ago, almost 10 thousands films have been shot, including from silent film to sound film, from black and white to colored film, from cine film to digital film. From 1909 onward, the first film corporation China Cinema Co. shot films including The Silly in Town God’s Temple and Bride Meets Ghost. In 1913, director Zheng Zhengqiu shot the first feature film The Couple in the Hard Time. In 1913, Chuang Tze Tests His Wife was shown abroad as the first film of China. In 1935, film Song of the Fisherman won the first international award. And in 1988, Red Sorghum directed by Zhang Yimou won Golden Bear Award in the 18th Berlin Film Festival, which is an A grade international film festival. Today, except for main stream films that has defined rhythm, commercial films rise again in China contemporary film circles; following the literary films of Shanghai Beach in 1920s and 1930s, romantic movies of Taiwan and Hongkong in 1970s and 1980s, New Year Movies have been overwhelmingly popular on mainland China. However, most New Year Movies paid too much attention to the box office earnings and lacked some artistic content. In the end of 2010, three New Year Movies completed to appear on the stage and audiences got too busy to catch up with their speed. However, to reflect on them later we would find that only The One 2 looks a little bit interesting with connotations; as for the other two, we would feel deliberate mystification in them; obviously they are smart-alecky and treat audiences as sucker.

During the one hundred years, outstanding films like “Plunder of Peach and Plum”, “The Cross of Street”, “Song of the Fisherman”, “Sons and Daughters of China”, “The Long Time”, “Springtime in a Small Town”, “A City of Sadness”, “A Flower in the Raining Night”, “Red Sorghum”, “To Live”, “The Story of QiuJu” as well as “Xiao Wu” and outstanding film directors like Zheng Zhengqiu, Cai Chusheng, Cheng Bugao, Shi Dongshan, Zheng Junli, Mu Fei, Hou Xiaoxian, Yang Dechang, Li An, Wu Yusen, Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke appeared in China film circles. These films and these film workers represent the highest level of Chinese film and they are the apotheosis of the local success in film.

Like other industries, film as a cultural industry also needs a free, law ruled and justice environment for its future. Since the reform in late 1980s and early 1990s, Korean film industry advanced in a fast speed with Korean film products covered China, Japan as well as Southeast Asian Countries. Korean government does not interfere in film industry and only required the Film Industry Association and Film Director Association to be self-disciplined. Chinese film cannot reach this step in short time and only through construction of cinemas to win in quantity could our film gain success. Namely to speed up the process of the industrialization of film through the raising of box office earning by attracting numerous audiences to see films in the wide spread cinemas. Of course, this process should depend on the effort of all land agents, but has little to do with film workers. Comparing with the America, the leading country in film circles: annual output, America 600 films, China 500; Average production cost of each film, America 60 million dollars, China 10 million RMB; Average propaganda cost of each film, America 40 million dollars, China 1 million RMB; and the highest box office earning of a single film, America 2.75 billion dollars, China 0.665 billion RMB. 

Zhu Wei

March 12, 2011, Saturday