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Interpret Weekly China Entertainment

The latest news on entertainment in China, courtesy of your friends here at Interpret LLC. 

Articles are long, our summaries are short.

Drug Lords Poster

Sublime Media / Sil-Metropole Organisation

Spider-Man Far From Home Poster

Columbia Pictures / Marvel Studios

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Poster

Universal Pictures / Illumination

Film News

China Box Office: ‘White Storm 2’ Dominates as ‘Spider-Man’ Passes $166 Million
Hong Kong action thriller White Storm 2: The Drug Lords topped the China box office over the weekend with a strong $62.4 million. The sequel in the Andy Lau and Louis Koo-starring franchise dethroned Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, which came in second with $29.8 million for a cumulative $166 million after 9 days of release. Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 ranked third with a quiet $10.3 million debut, 50% lower than its prequel which made $15.7 million in its opening weekend in 2016.
‘Mulan’ Trailer Trends on Chinese Social Media at Midnight
Anticipation over Disney’s 2020 live-action Mulan is running high in China, with more than one billion views of the subject on Chinese social media in the hours after a teaser trailer was unveiled during Sunday’s final game of the Women’s World Cup, which was midnight on Monday in China. Most internet users appeared exhilarated at the prospect of Disney’s first Chinese princess, played by Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, praising her representative discipline, elegance, and valor demonstrated in the trailer.
However, the familiarity of Mulan’s legend has presented a challenge for the production, with some commenters questioning the historical details. The mostly discussed scene was Mulan riding a horse to her home built in the architectural style of tulou, which is common in the southern province of Fujian. Originally, though, Mulan was said to have been born in the Northern Wei dynasty, which controlled northern China.
New Releases: ‘Yesterday’ Aug. 16, ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Aug. 23
Danny Boyle’s Beatles-nostalgia film Yesterday has secured its China theatrical release on August 16, one week before Universal’s Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw on August 23. Both films will be released in China weeks later than other major markets, but note that these dates, together with The Lion King’s July 12, are usually considered part of China’s unofficial annual summer blackout period, in which new releases are limited to domestic titles. There is a growing speculation that the 2019 blackout will be pushed to September, ahead of the October 1 celebration of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, when patriotism or nationalism themed films will dominate the theater.
China Box Office Suffers First Half-Year Drop in 8 Years
China’s box office fell 2.8% to $4.53 billion in the first half of 2019. This was the first such decline since 2011.

  • 246 films were released in the first six months, 18 more than the same period the year before, but only 806 million tickets were sold in the meantime, down from 901 million in 2018.
  • Domestic films reported sales of $2.15 billion, down 13% from 2018. Only one mainland Chinese film has topped the monthly box office this year – February’s sci-fi hit The Wandering Earth.
  • On the Hollywood side, Avengers: Endgame made history with a $614 million haul, followed by Bumblebee and Captain Marvel which both broke the $145 million threshold, but several of the anticipated tent-poles failed to live up to expectations, including Shazam! ($44 million), Dark Phoenix ($59 million), Men in Black: International ($45 million), Toy Story 4 ($28 million), and Dumbo ($22 million).
  • Revenues for non-U.S. international films surged 38.5%, climbing to $407 million. Standout examples include Lebanese art-house drama Capernaum ($54 million) and the re-release of Japanese anime classic Spirited Away ($66 million and counting).
  • Construction of new theaters also slowed with 4,585 screens added during the first half, 207 fewer than in the previous year.
  • There are many issues that could be responsible for this recession: rising ticket prices due to the removal of subsidies from ticketing platforms, the absence of quality content from both Hollywood and China, a slowing-down macro-economy growth, the tightening censorship especially since the China Film Administration went under the direct control of the Propaganda Department this February, and the massive tax-evasion crackdown campaign which bankrupted many small companies while affecting the cash flow of established studios.
Gaming News

Tencent Wins Bigger Share of Game Revenue from Android App Stores
Tencent has successfully negotiated a groundbreaking 30% revenue split with third-party Android stores in the country, as opposed to a more typical 50% split in the past. Tencent’s mobile hits Jian Wang 3 and PopKart Mobile are the first beneficiaries to enjoy the new terms. This is not the first time that Chinese game companies have attempted to change Android’s equal revenue split. NetEase managed to keep 70% of its revenue for its Fantasy Westward Journey Mobile game which was launched in March.
Tencent Making Progress in Bringing Mario and Zelda to China
Chinese Nintendo fans found that Tencent posted two Shenzhen-based positions on its website on July 1, looking to recruit two people for its newly established Nintendo cooperation department. Moreover, a government documents released on July 2 shows that Tencent now has the right to distribute some Switch titles, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey, and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
Tencent Brings ‘Auto Chess’ to China
Tencent has partnered with Drodo Studio and Dragonest to co-publish Auto Chess in mainland China. Players can log in to the game through dominant messaging platforms WeChat and QQ, both owned by Tencent. The Chinese video gaming giant is set to be involved in the Auto Chess tournament which is set to happen in October 2019.

Policy & Law

Unprecedented, China to Open up Cinema Sector to Foreign Entities
China’s state planning agency said it has cut the number of sectors subject to foreign investment restrictions amid cooling trade tensions with the US. Notably, cinemas and performance agencies in China no longer need to be controlled by Chinese entities. The restriction will be fully lifted before the end of this year.

Industry News

Tencent to Invest $100 Million in Video Startup
Tencent and Paytm is planning to invest about $100 million in Indian streaming service MX Player, which has around 30 million registered users in India. This is the latest sign of Tencent expanding its online streaming business in the emerging markets outside of China. The company launched its first overseas video streaming service in Thailand last month. 

Television News

China’s Migu Commissions BBC Studios for Factual Series ‘One Cup’
One Cup, A Thousand Stories, a factual series about the history and influence of tea, has been commissioned from BBC Studios by Migu, the digital content subsidiary of the state-run telecommunication giant China Mobile. The series is BBC Studios’ first fully-funded production commission in China. BBC Studios has previously worked with other Chinese broadcasters to co-produce titles including Dynasties and Blue Planet II. The fully-funded commission of One Cup follows BBC Studios Factual production team for several months while in China.

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