Interpret Weekly: Asia Entertainment 07/19/2021

Bona Film GroupTencent Pictures / Shanghai Film GroupCCTV Animation / Wanda Pictures

Chinese Doctors gave a shot in the arm to a sluggish weekend at the Chinese box office, coming in first with sales of $44.4 million, pushing its gross to $138 million. The patriotic tearjerker had little competition: only other patriotic films, children’s animations, and youth-centric programming are currently in theaters.

Film producers and distributors are currently seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, and are busily repopulating the late summer distribution calendar, but the virus has hastened the systemic shift to a more digital future.

Cinema operators have been badly hurt by the downturn. The three major chains lost $877 million in 2020 (CJ-CGV, $672 million; Lotte Cultureworks $145 million; J Contentree, owner of Megabox, $60 million), according to published reports, and have permanently shuttered many venues. Two of them, CJ-CGV and Lotte may be nursing further pain as they both have significant overseas operations — including Vietnam and COVID-ravaged Indonesia, where theaters have remained closed for months. As the pain for exhibitors has deepened, the chains have increased ticket prices on two occasions and also turned to alternate content, such as live-streamed stage presentations, concerts, and even aids for meditation.

The latest Evangelion film has surpassed 10 billion yen (about $91 million) as of Monday, its 127th day in the Japanese box office. The film has sold nearly 7 million tickets to become the highest grossing film in the series’ history.

The purchase, which will boost the Chinese internet giant’s presence globally, brings together Sumo’s racing and snooker games with Tencent’s more high-profile range of games. Tencent owns 8.75% and is the second-biggest shareholder in Sumo, which has 14 studios in five countries and released the video games including Hotshot Racing, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and WST Snooker last year.

In an agreement between Tencent and Riot Games, a new mobile TFT spin-off, Fight for the Golden Spatula, is being developed for the Chinese audience. In the preview trailer some features were on display, including a highly requested duos game mode.

The Lineage legacy which has reigned over the MMORPG names from South Korea is under threat as Kakao Games Corp.’s new title Odin: Valhalla Rising may not end as a passing storm. Odin has kept the No.1 position on Google Play for more than 10 days since it became the top-grossing game app on July 2. This is the longest losing streak for long-time bestsellers Lineage M and Lineage 2M. The two mobile versions of NCSoft’s mega-hit stayed at the top since their respective launches in 2017 and 2019, until Odin.

NCSoft Corp. has developed and implemented its own AI-based language translation engine capable of processing colloquialisms, abbreviated words, and even slang used by gamers.

The Korean mobile and PC game giant said it launched the new translation tool via its cross-play game platform Purple. The translation tool features real-time, two-way translations of four different languages: Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese.

Game companies have enforced the strictest level of their work-from-home policies for the next two weeks, having all employees work from home with the exception of a minimum number of staffers needed for essential office tasks.  According to a survey released in April by the Game Developers Conference conducted on more than 3,000 game industry professionals worldwide, 44% of developers had a game release delayed due to COVID-19. This is up from 33% of those surveyed in June last year. 32% of respondents said their creativity or productivity decreased due to remote work.

SenseTime, a Beijing-headquartered AI firm, plans to adapt Liu’s award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem and its sequels into an “offline immersive entertainment” experience.

Leading South Korean tech conglomerate Naver is to invest KRW40 billion ($352 million) in Tving, the streaming video platform spun off from CJ ENM. The move is intended to accelerate Tving’s expansion within Korea and abroad. The agreement expands Naver’s equity stake in Tving to 15% and makes it the second largest shareholder, after CJ ENM.

Nexon is setting up an LA-based film and TV division to be run by Disney and Activision Blizzard veteran Nick van Dyk. The film and TV unit will look to leverage existing IPs at the company. Its titles include long-running games like Dungeon Fighter, The Kingdom of the Winds, MapleStory, and KartRider. Others are in development at Nexon’s Embark Studios in Stockholm, Sweden.

In a Legislative Council panel meeting on Monday, lawmakers urged the government to consider censoring films posted online to prevent them from promoting messages endangering national security. The government last month amended with immediate effect guidelines for the city’s censors, who are now authorized to ban films that breach the Beijing-imposed national security law. The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, however, questioned the need to impose restrictions on every film posted online, who suggested a greater discussion among the public on this topic.

South Korean director Jung Byung-gil’s action film The Villainess, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, is set to be adapted for a TV series by Amazon Studios, Next Entertainment World announced. The Korean content distribution company in 2019 had signed a remake partnership with Fear the Walking Dead series producer Skybound Entertainment.