No comments yet.
The film debuted in the box office chart’s top spot, bringing in an estimated 66.1 million yuan ($10.4 million) in its first week last month. Its run in the world’s second-largest movie market is expected to further add many millions to the more than $650 million dollars already raked in worldwide. But the biggest feat by far is that the film was selected by China’s culture czars as one of the handful of Hollywood films allowed to open in China this year.
The movie’s content certainly didn’t make it a likely candidate. The reason for this isn’t only its violence, but also its entire plot, which places protagonist Katniss in opposition to a repressive and dystopian political system. (The debut of the film in nearby Vietnam, for instance, has been “delayed indefinitely.”) The Chinese government has been clamping down on violent and racy entertainment, and has shown itself to be extremely sensitive to cultural products that develop political connotations. China’s president Hu Jintao even penned a major statement earlier this year that decried “international hostile forces” that use the “cultural field” to “infiltrate … westernize and divide China.”
But even the heavily controlled Chinese film sector can’t resist the commercial allure of The Hunger Games‘ record-breaking profits. When I went to see the movie, tickets cost 70 yuan (about $11) apiece at a swanky theater in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, a large sum for the many Chinese families and teenagers on dates who had eagerly filled the theater. The movie’s entry into China exemplifies the triumph of market forces and profit motives that has increasingly characterized the country’s economy since Deng Xiaoping initiated “reform and opening” in 1978. The Hunger Games is the kind of gripping entertainment that people everywhere love, whether they live under the Chinese Communist Party or Queen Elizabeth II (both recently celebrated their 60th anniversaries in power). And, in this case, the market got what the market wanted, despite the many aspects of the movie that the Chinese government undoubtedly finds unappealing.
No comments yet.