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China Censorship Casualty ‘Better Days’ Finally Gets Local Release Date; Well Go Working On U.S. Bow

  • Deadline
China Censorship Casualty ‘Better Days’ Finally Gets Local Release Date; Well Go Working On U.S. Bow
Exclusive: Another casualty of China’s crackdown on potentially sensitive local films this past summer has been given a lifeline. Derek Tsang’s Better Days will release this Friday in the Middle Kingdom after being okayed just this week. Well Go USA has the movie domestically and was forced to postpone the release this summer when Better Days was shelved by the Chinese authorities. Well Go says it is now finalizing plans for a U.S. date, but nothing is confirmed as yet.

The youth drama, which was also previously pulled from the Berlin Film Festival, focuses on issues of suicide, bullying and sexual abuse. A synopsis calls it a “melodramatic thriller” that “paints a bleak picture of an oppressive society, in the guise of a gripping fairy-tale love story.”

When it was originally kiboshed, we reported that among the vast number of ministries required to approve its release, there
See full article at Deadline »

China Box Office: Hollywood Sweeps Up With ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Gemini Man’

  • Variety
China Box Office: Hollywood Sweeps Up With ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Gemini Man’
The first Hollywood blockbusters to hit China after the country’s big National Day holiday have, as expected, swept away holdover patriotic titles that had previously ruled the box office. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” edged out another new release, “Gemini Man,” to lead the pack with a $22.5 million opening weekend.

While Disney’s “Maleficent” arrived in China day-and-date with the U.S., the Ang Lee-directed “Gemini Man” hit theaters stateside a week before on Oct. 11. It grossed $21 million in its mainland opening, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway.

Chinese user reviews for “Maleficent” were mixed, giving the film a 9.1 and 8.8 rating out of 10 on the Maoyan and Taopiaopiao ticketing platforms, respectively, but just 6.2 on the more discerning Douban site. Opinions of “Gemini Man” were less polarized, with users according it an 8.0, an 8.1 and a 7.1 score on the three platforms.

On Maoyan, most “Maleficent” commenters expressed admiration for Angelina Jolie
See full article at Variety »

Film Review: ‘Send Me to the Clouds’

  • Variety
The social and economic pressures felt by China’s “leftover women” — referring to those older than 26 and unmarried — are examined in “Send Me to the Clouds,” a rewarding dramedy about a 30-ish journalist seeking financial reward and sexual fulfillment after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Bold by mainland standards for presenting a positive portrayal of a woman who’s chosen neither motherhood nor marriage, “Clouds” marks an impressive feature debut for female writer-director Teng Congcong, whose editing credits include “Reign of Assassins.” Starring and co-produced by popular actress Yao Chen (“Journey to the West: The Demon Strikes Back”), this timely pro-feminist tale grossed a respectable $4 million in limited domestic release in August, and has the warm heart and wry humor to attract art-house audiences when it opens theatrically in North America on Sept. 20.

Following similarly themed documentaries such as “Leftover Women” and 2019 Sundance prize winner “One Child Nation,” From the
See full article at Variety »

Legend Media Seeks Trio of West Australia-China Co-Productions (Exclusive)

  • Variety
Perth, Australia-based production company Legend Media is preparing a slate of three feature films to be produced with partners in China.

The company styles itself as one that recognizes the opportunities for Asian engagement that have fallen to Australia, through geography, trade and culture. The company aims to make use of the bilateral film co-production treaty that came into effect in December 2008 between Australia and China and has been used on average by nearly one film per year.

Operations are headed by Camille Chen, a writer-director-producer with relevant co-production (“Little Sparrows”). The company is backed by mining executive Bronwen Barnes, property developer Paul Lakey, and banking and property executive Darren Cooper.

First up, and aiming to shoot from late January 2020, is “Outback Dragon,” an action-adventure-comedy in the vein of “Lost In Thailand” and “Chinatown Detective,” that is set in gold mining territory around Kalgoorlie, and in Chinese mega-city Shenzhen. Lead
See full article at Variety »

China’s Turbulent Relationship With Film Festivals Explained

  • Variety
China has had a roller-coaster year so far at festivals worldwide, with high-profile wins and accolades but also more instances of highly disruptive censorship than ever before. In 2019, five international film festivals around have so far ended up tangling with China’s content overlords, who are on unusually high alert ahead of a particularly sensitive political anniversary for the ruling Communist Party in October — the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

The year kicked off with a bang in February at the Berlin Intl. Film Festival, which became a showcase of both the country’s highs and lows. China was the best-represented non-European country at the festival, with three entries in the main competition; two in the Panorama section (Lou Ye’s “The Shadow Play” and Xiang Zi’s “A Dog Barking at the Moon”); and Chinese film producer, director and screenwriter Vivian Qu on the jury for First Feature Film.
See full article at Variety »

Film Review: ‘Dying to Survive’

  • Variety
Film Review: ‘Dying to Survive’
A moneymaking scheme turns into a life-changing crusade in “Dying to Survive,” a dramedy loosely based on the true story of a Chinese man whose illegal importation of affordable generic drugs vastly improved the lives of many leukemia patients. Director and co-writer Wen Muye’s feature debut is a classy crowd-pleaser and an interesting example of a Chinese film that shows public protests and casts officialdom in a frequently unflattering light yet still received the stamp of approval from state censors.

This 2018 production grossed a staggering $450 million domestically and is just now opening in Western markets following a stellar run on the festival circuit. Released Aug. 9 in the U.S., “Survive” could conceivably increase its North American footprint with word-of-mouth and social media buzz, but was placed in theaters too far removed from tastemakers to hit the mainstream. It opens in Australia and New Zealand on Aug. 29.

The events depicted
See full article at Variety »

Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams Attend ‘After The Wedding’; Shia Labeouf, Dakota Johnson in ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ –  Specialty B.O. Preview

  • Deadline
Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams Attend ‘After The Wedding’; Shia Labeouf, Dakota Johnson in ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ –  Specialty B.O. Preview
Hints of autumn are unspooling this weekend with stars fronting Specialty fare opening in theaters. Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup and Abby Quinn headline Sundance ’19 opener After The Wedding, starting in New York and L.A. today via Sony Pictures Classics. The film by Bart Freundlich is based on the 2006 Oscar-nominated original by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier. Shia Labeouf and Dakota Johnson join newcomer Zack Gottsagen in Roadside Attractions’ modern-day Huck Finn-style adventure Peanut Butter Falcon, opening in seven markets this weekend. Doc awards hopeful One Child Nation from Amazon Studios begins its theatrical with exclusive runs in Los Angeles and New York today, while non-fiction title This Changes Everything, featuring a slew of veteran actors and public figures, heads out to three theaters in both cities from Good Deed Entertainment. Following screenings at recent Lgbtq festivals Frameline and Outfest, Samuel Goldwyn Films rolls out Mexican period drama
See full article at Deadline »

In Theaters This Weekend: 'The Kitchen,' 'Dora and the Lost City of Gold' and More

In Theaters This Weekend: 'The Kitchen,' 'Dora and the Lost City of Gold' and More
This weekend's movie lineup features diverse titles, with highlights being Dora and the Lost City of Gold, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Brian Banks and The Kitchen and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Other films hitting the big screen this week will include Amazon's One Child Nation, Golden Horse-winner Dying to Survive, a gender-swapped remake of the 2006 film After the Wedding and more. 

A weekend's worth of diverse titles yields a number of reviews just as varying and different.

From disappointing to influential, read what The Hollywood Reporter film critics thought of this week's releases. 

...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter »

China Box Office: ‘The Lion King’ Pounces as Ticket Sales Slump

  • Variety
China Box Office: ‘The Lion King’ Pounces as Ticket Sales Slump
Disney’s “The Lion King” has pounced on the China market — a week ahead of its U.S. release — with a $53.8 million three-day debut that gave it pride of place at the Chinese weekend box office. But the win came against a field of competitors so dismal that the fourth top-performing title hasn’t even had its official premier yet, and amid a drop of nearly 5% in the country’s total year-to-date box office compared to last year.

The downward slide in theatrical earnings is part of an increasingly sluggish overall economy, with official data revealing Monday that Chinese economic growth slowed to its weakest pace in nearly three decades in Q2. Chinese Gdp expanded by just 6.2 %, down from 6.4% in Q1 and from 6.6% in 2018.

“The Lion King” saw a China opening day of $13 million (RMB89.5 million) and $490,000 (RMB3.4 million) in midnight screenings, according to the Maoyan data app — exceeding the
See full article at Variety »

Golden Horse Organizers Set Clashing Date With China’s Golden Rooster Awards

  • Variety
The prestigious Golden Horse Awards announced Wednesday that it will hold its annual ceremony in Taiwan on the same day this year as China’s Communist-backed Golden Rooster Awards – which virtually assures that no major mainland Chinese talent will attend the event known as Asia’s Oscars on November 23.

Hong Kong director Johnnie To will act as chairman of the Golden Horse jury, the festival said. He has been nominated eight times for the best director award and won it on three occasions: in 2000 for “The Mission,” 2004 for “Breaking News” and 2012 for “Life Without Principle.”

He thanked director Ang Lee, head of last year’s executive committee, for the invitation, saying: “The Golden Horse Awards are the most prestigious awards in the Chinese-language cinema and a very important recognition that my films have received. Before I’m awarded another prize, I feel honored to have this chance to offer my services.
See full article at Variety »

Shanghai: Chinese Film Industry Needs to Focus on Quality After Wobbly 2018

  • Variety
The economics of China’s film industry is no longer an unbroken story of double digit growth. Nor was 2018 quite as bad many companies have portrayed.

A major report on the business, published in Shanghai this week by the China Film Association, in partnership with the Motion Picture Association, showed the number of cinemas grew last year, but also that per screen attendance dropped. Theatrical box office grew by 9% to $9 billion, but China’s share of the global total only edged up from 21% in 2017 to 22% in 2018.

Liu Jia, film distributor and expert on the industry numbers, called 2018 “an up and down year” at a presentation on Thursday at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Her analysis of the Cfa data showed China as now “firmly the number two film market in the world,” increasingly dominated by female audience tastes, and increasingly driven by word of mouth marketing. Online ticketing is now dominant,
See full article at Variety »

Shanghai: Er Dong Pictures Adds to Web of Hollywood and Chinese Deals

  • Variety
Chinese production and talent company Er Dong Pictures shed some light on its latest film investment slate and growing web of relationships in Asia and Hollywood.

The company, which is in the process of establishing a joint venture with Hollywood talent firm The Gersh Agency, and has a 12-film co-funding deal with Starlight Culture Entertainment, announced its involvement in new projects with Roland Emmerich, Jon M. Chu and Sylvester Stallone.

Projects include “Those About to Die,” a film project with Harald Kloser set as producer. Emmerich and Gianni Nunnari (“The Departed”) are also involved, though their roles were not specified.

“Sylvester Stallone will be cooperating with Er Dong Pictures and Starlight on three projects,” Er Dong said. The company appears to be boarding projects being hatched by Stallone’s Balboa Pictures, including the previously announced English-language remake of recent Korean action film “The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil,” which had
See full article at Variety »

Hong Kong’s ‘Where the Wind Blows’ Sidesteps Protests For China Promo

  • Variety
Hong Kong film director Philip Yung and his cast were in Shanghai on Monday to promote their upcoming film “Where the Wind Blows.” They revealed new details while cautiously sidestepping — for the most part — the awkward issue of last week’s massive civil protests in Hong Kong against a controversial bill that would have deepen ties with China, which have been entirely censored from mainland Chinese media.

The film, which used to be titled “Theory of Ambitions” in English, stars Hong Kong’s Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Aaron Kwok, Patrick Tam and Michael Chow and Chinese actress Du Juan. The actors play four notoriously corrupt police officers who rose to power in 1960s Hong Kong, and Du one of their wives. The stylish crime thriller covers a particularly long time span, said Kwok, saying he had to play officer Lui Lok from age 20 up until around 80.

“As a born and bred Hong Konger,
See full article at Variety »

Shanghai: China-Iran Heading Towards Co-Production Treaty

“China has signed co-production agreements with 22 countries. Similar agreements between Iran and China are in the works, and will be signed by the end of this year,” said Miao Xiaotian, Gm of the China Film Co-Production Corporation on Monday.

Miao was speaking at the Shanghai International Film Festival, which is hosting a six-title Focus Iran section and panel discussions on deeper co-operation.

Reza Mirkarimi, director of Iran’s Fajr International Film Festival, gave an overview of Iranian film, covering its history and modern operation. One notable segment of the presentation he gave was a segment called “Who Calls the Shots,” in which he explained the organizations and government bodies that oversee the Iranian industry. At the top of the list is the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance — the common acknowledgement of the need for censorship may be the ideological foundation of a China-Iran co-production relationship.

“China and Iran share
See full article at Variety »

'Dying to Survive' ('Wo bu shi yao shen'): Film Review

'Dying to Survive' ('Wo bu shi yao shen'): Film Review
Crowning Cannes' China Day events was a screening of Dying to Survive, the 2018 dramedy that became a blockbuster both in terms of its $450 million box office (making it the third-highest-grosser in China last year) and its apparent influence on government policies regarding cheap generic drugs for leukemia patients. Produced by hitmaker Ning Hao and directed by 34-year-old Wen Muye (Drug Dealer), who won the Golden Horse award for best new director with this film, it humorously and humanely describes the terrible reality of impoverished Cml cancer patients unable to afford $70,000 a year worth of a life-saving ...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter »

China’s Huanxi Media Buys Slate of Festival Films (Exclusive)

  • Variety
China’s Huanxi Media has acquired a slate of recent film titles that played prominently on the international festival circuit and collected multiple prizes.

They include Julian Schnabel’s “At Eternity’s Gate”; Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s “Never Look Away”; Marcus H. Rosenmueller’s “The Keeper”; Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult”; Andrzej Zulawski’s “Cosmo”; Frederic Tellier’s “Serial Killer 1” from 2017; Dom Lenoir’s 2018 title “Winter Ridge”; and Mina Shum’s “Meditation Park,” starring Sandra Oh.

Huanxi, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, is best-known as a producer backed by some of China’s leading talent. Its principal shareholders include directors Ning Hao and Xu Zheng, whose films “Crazy Alien” and “Dying to Survive” it has released in the past year.

However, the company sees its future as a specialist subscription-only video streaming platform. The platform’s lineup is a mix of tiles produced by Huanxi’s own directors and producers,
See full article at Variety »

China’s Censors Confound Biz

  • Variety
China’s Censors Confound Biz
It was the shot Chinese-American director Ren Wen had spent an entire day of his short 15-day shoot preparing for: a long take in which a supposedly sweet old woman brutally kicks the protagonist of the film out of the car, leaving him to die in the freezing night of a future world where the sun has flamed out.

But when Chinese censors handed “Last Sunrise” back to Ren with the single, vague piece of feedback that the film “showed too much of the darkness of humanity,” he realized the shot had to go. “The problem is they’re not specific, so we just had to cut whatever we thought they might find too dark or violent” — about four minutes of material, he says. More experienced Chinese colleagues had counseled him to cut more than he thought necessary. Not removing enough “shows that you have an ‘attitude problem,’ which will
See full article at Variety »

Global Box Office Off to Super Start With ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Despite Rise of Streamers

Only a couple years ago, amid the rise of new media players like Netflix and a dip in the U.S. theatrical market, doomsayers began predicting that the big-screen experience had entered its endgame. But after one of the most astonishing weeks in box office history, the upcoming gathering in Cannes of film lovers and executives from around the world is taking on the air of movie-industry avengers assembling.

The colossal haul of “Avengers: Endgame” ($1.5 billion and counting) follows a second consecutive record year at the global box office, which raked in $41.1 billion in 2018. With more big-budget films set to hit multiplexes in the coming months, 2019 could extend that streak.

In good news for the domestic industry, the North American total of $11.9 billion also shattered the previous record. But 2018 offered further evidence that, far from being gravy, international takings are fast becoming the meant for Hollywood’s tentpoles, and even
See full article at Variety »

“Still Human” Triumphs at Udine Far East Film Festival 21. Here all the Winners

Udine Far East Film Festival‘s audiences and Black Dragon pass holders crown Hong Kong the winner of the 21st edition.

“We live on the other side of the world and we were worried that our film wouldn’t be understood. But the world speaks a single language: the language of love…”

These were the words of excited and radiant young actress Crisel Consunji on the triumph of Hong Kong film “Still Human” at the Far East Film Festival 21, as she shared the stage and the applause of the Teatro Nuovo with director Oliver Chan and monumental protagonist Anthony Wong (already winner of a Golden Mulberry Award for Outstanding Achievement).

The public were in no doubt about the winner, and neither were the Black Dragon pass holders, who gave “Still Human” the Critics Award. In second place came Chinese black comedy “Dying To Survive”, and in third position Korean blockbuster “Extreme Job””.

Finally,
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

'Still Human' wins top awards at Udine Far East Film Festival

White Mulberry award for first film went to Tanaka Seiji’s Japanese film Melancholic.

Oliver Chan’s debut feature Still Human, starring Anthony Wong, picked up both the top Audience Award and the Critics Award at the 21st Udine Far East Film Festival (Feff) in North-eastern Italy.

The Hong Kong drama, featuring Wong as a paralysed construction worker and Crisel Consunji as his Filipina caretaker, had its director and co-stars onstage at the Teatro Nuovo – a familiar place for Wong who previously won a Golden Mulberry Award for Outstanding Achievement in Udine.

“We live on the other side of the
See full article at ScreenDaily »
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