China's film industry
Kung fu propaganda
There’s a ton of easy money in praising the party
Jul 14th 2011 | HONG KONG | from the print edition
THERE are two ways to make a box-office smash. One is to take an exciting script, hire famous actors, shoot a rollercoaster of a film, distribute it widely and market it deftly. This is the Hollywood way, and it worked pretty well for Harry Potter.
The Beijing way shares some features with the Hollywood way, such as hiring lots of stars and distributing the film widely. But the magic ingredient behind China’s latest blockbuster was one unavailable to the mightiest Tinseltown mogul. It was the power of the party.
“The Beginning of the Great Revival”, a celebration of the founding of the Communist Party, opened at every cineplex in China on June 15th, in time for the party’s 90th birthday. Competing films with a shred of drawing power were blocked, even the awful “Transformers 3”. Many state-owned firms ordered their staff to attend. Schools organised trips so that pupils could watch and learn from the exploits of a youthful Mao Zedong. Government departments deployed waves of bureaucratic bottoms to fill seats. Online reviews alleging that the masterpiece was rather dull were censored. Success was assured.