Interpret Monthly: China Entertainment + Industry 6/10/2019
The latest news on entertainment in China, courtesy of your friends here at Interpret LLC.
Articles are long, our summaries are short.
20th Century Fox / Marvel Entertainment
Bona Film Group
China Box Office: ‘Dark Phoenix’ Flies High to $46M
Disney/Fox’s Dark Phoenix opened in China with a shining $45.6 million, benefitting from the three-day Dragon Boat Festival. The debut is 28% bigger than Days of Future Past in 2014 but 15% Less than Apocalypse. What hurt was the mixed word of mouth, reflected by film ratings with Douban at 6.0, the worst among the X-Men titles. Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla: King of the Monsters came in third with $27 million, bringing its cumulative China box office total to $113 million since its May 31 debut.
Trump Trade War Starts to Threaten Hollywood’s Business in China
China has started putting the brakes on the entry of some U.S. content in apparent retaliation against Washington’s escalation of its trade war with Beijing. Chinese film officials have told some local buyers to steer clear of U.S. movies, though there is no officially published decree to put a freeze on U.S. content. However, note that the Chinese government usually exercises such controls internally and officially, which allows it to publicly deny the existence of any restrictions.
Hollywood tentpoles are exempted from the conservatism as multiple summer money-making titles have secured release dates in the Middle Kingdom, but mid-budget or indie titles from non-big six studios who usually have access to the Chinese market as revenue-sharing titles are under attack. It is said that during the Cannes Film Festival, China Film Admin told Chinese buyers that there would be no more slots for U.S. revenue-sharing films starting May 24. The unwritten policy is also impacting the local streaming service, best illustrated by the streaming halt of the Game of Thrones finale on Tencent Video – HBO told the media that the Chinese company had been ordered by the Chinese government to pull the show because of the trade dispute.
Tencent’s ‘PUBG Mobile’ Substitute Rakes in $70M in May
Mobile battle royale title Game for Peace brought in $70 million from in-game purchases on iOS in May, largely driven by players who spend on cosmetic and skin items. Tencent launched the title to replace PUBG Mobile, which they were not able to monetize under the regulation. The revenue jump from the Chinese version has made PUBG Mobile the top-earning mobile title, reporting $146 million to overtake Tencent’s other mobile hit Arena of Valor.
Tencent Counts on ‘Call of Duty Mobile’ to Quicken Its Global Push
In an interview with Bloomberg, Tencent’s TiMi Studio Group’s marketing director Vincent Gao said the company is rolling out marquee title Call of Duty Mobile to markets from the U.S. and Europe to Latin America and Southeast Asia, leveraging its marketing and distribution network built when introducing hack-and-slash hit Arena of Valor. The mobile version of the first-person shooter hit is currently in beta-testing though the official release date hasn’t been set. Gao revealed that TiMi Studio, one of the largest creative teams under Tencent, is working with several international companies to introduce multiple games in the shooter, role-playing, and other categories.
Chinese Authority Says Stricter Film and TV Censorship ‘Will be the Norm’
Chinese authorities have pledged to make the recent state of heightened censorship and ideological control over film and TV content the new normal, state media sources said. 1905 Film, an outlet affiliated with one of China’s state-run broadcasting channels, said in an analysis posted to its social media account Wednesday that, “in the future, strict control of the film and TV industry will be the norm.” That’s because works of entertainment “are not just cultural or consumer goods – they are also carriers of mainstream ideology, and thus of enormous concern to the [Communist] Party and the country. Film and TV work cannot merely be approached from a commercial, market-based or entertainment perspective; it must be undertaken with strategic thinking from the national level, from the same battle lines that the country itself is fighting from.”
Huya Live Streaming Subsidiary Nimo TV Officially Launches in Brazil
Huya-backed video game live streaming service has officially entered the Brazilian market. Nimo TV has already signed exclusive partnerships with a number of famous Brazilian YouTube creators and exclusive livestreaming agreements with several major Brazilian e-sports teams. Nimo TV was launched in May 2018 and has been operating in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Mexico before the launch in Brazil. As of the end of 2018, Nimo TV had more than 11.5 million monthly active users globally.
Video Streaming Giant Mango Raised $289M from State-Owned Companies
China’s largest state-backed online video streaming service Mango Excellent Media announced that it has raised $289 million by selling shares to two state-owned investors – a subsidiary of telecom operator China Mobile Ltd, and a subsidiary of China Life Insurance Corp. Ltd. Mango Excellent Media will use the majority of the cash for production of original programming, including scripted TV series and unscripted entertainment shows. Based in Central China’s Hunan province, Mango Excellent made its name largely because of its exclusive rights to stream programs made by Hunan Satellite TV, one of the country’s most successful provincial TV networks and the producer of dozens of popular entertainment shows.
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