China records 10% rise year-on-year
China’s exhibition industry has recorded total box-office revenues of more than CNY52.6 billion ($7.6 billion) during the first ten months of 2018, a year-on-year increase of 9.75%, according to the country’s regulatory body, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).
SARFT reported that domestic films contributed roughly 70% of the total box office during that period, up 37.56%, while foreign productions accounted for the remainder. Of the 67 movies that earned over CNY100 million during their China release, 38 were domestic films, showing that local offerings are still very much in vogue among Chinese audiences.
The top grossers so far were black comedy Dying to Survive, action film Operation Red Sea and sleuth comedy Detective Chinatown 2, each of which raked in more than three billion yuan in ticket sales.
Lao Audiences Enjoy Chinese Films
After the apparent success of its first installment, the second Laos-China Film Festival launched across the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Laos on Nov. 3, treating local audiences to a slew of popular Chinese and Laotian movies during its long run of almost two months, reported the local daily newspaper Vientiane Times.
The Chinese embassy to Laos in collaboration with the Lao Department of Cinema under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and China Radio International in Laos (CRI Laos) jointly opened the festival in Laos’ capital of Vientiane.
Calling it an event for cultural exchange, festival organizers arranged open-air screening areas in Vientiane and the provincial capitals ofSavannakhet, Champassak, Attapeu, Xayaboury, Xieng Khuang and Huaphan throughout November and December.
To make the Chinese films more accessible to Lao audiences, CRI hired local entertainment stars to dub dialogue into Lao language. "Films have become an important part of encouraging cultural exchange between peoples," the Vientiane Times quoted political counselor at the Chinese embassy, Zhao Chenggang. "The event features three excellent Chinese movies dubbed into Lao language with subtitles in Chinese."
Meanwhile, Laos’ Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Boua Ngeun Xaphouvong said the festival played an important role in boosting the exchange of culture between the two nations. It would particularly encourage Lao people to learn about Chinese culture through the medium of motion pictures. The Minister expressed hopes the festival would play a part in continuing to enhance relations and cooperation between the two countries.
Major Cineplex Opens ‘World’s First’ E-sports Auditorium
Always at the forefront in capturing new audience demographics, Thailand’s leading circuit operator Major Cineplex Group has launched what it calls “the world’s first e-sports theatre.”
“E-sports” refers to communally playing group games such as soccer, basketball, hockey or rugby on a video screen, whereas participating gamers each take control of one of the virtual players on the field, competing against an opposing team. Since the games are running online, gamers from around the world can participate and join one or another of the opposing teams. The practice apparently is highly popular in Internet-crazed Thailand, where it is estimated that two million people regularly partake in e-sports competitions.
Major Cineplex Group has converted one of its auditoriums in Thailand’s capital Bangkok into the “Dell Gaming E-Sports Cinema.” The operator’s chief marketing officer Narute Jiensnong said the move was in line with the company’s strategy to cater to Thailand’s growing market for e-sports competitions, currently estimated as worth around THB10 billion ($303 million) per year and projected to grow 12% annually. “The target customers of our e-sports theatre are a new generation [of people], those aged between 12 and 35, the same age bracket as the most avid moviegoers. We want to go beyond just ordinary theatres. The launch of an e-sports theatre will help Major Cineplex to expand its revenue as well as its customer base,” Jiensnong said.
With Dell Corporation (Thailand) being the e-sports theatre’s main sponsor, other leading IT technology and computer companies like Intel, Neolution and local True Online are also partnering in the venture. It is hoped the joint effort will not only help to elevate e-sports to be an officially recognized sport but also encourage gamers to utilize e-sports theatres with their large screens for practice sessions and—at a later stage—international competitions.
According to Jiensnong, the move helped Major Cineplex Group to further entrench its position as a leader in the lifestyle entertainment business, especially in an era when technology and digital gadgets are indispensable for many. “We are determined to incorporate the latest developments in innovation and technology into the cinema business so Thai users can experience an impeccable all-round entertainment service,” he said, adding that the company already had plans to also install e-sports theatres in other outlets.
But Major Cineplex Group has been trailblazing in other sectors this year as well. For example, it launched Thailand’s very first “Kids’ Cinema” only a few months ago, the auditorium being equipped with a children’s playground. A little while later, the company announced it was the first in Thailand—and possibly the entire region—to accept cryptocurrency payments for movie tickets.
South Korea Chooses Burning for Oscars
A committee established by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has selected the critically acclaimed mystery drama Burning as South Korea’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at next year’s 91st Academy Awards.
Directed by Lee Chang-dong, the film was chosen by the committee from a total of ten titles vying for the honor to represent the country at the world’s most prestigious film awards, includingpolitical drama 1987: When the Day Comes (2017), period drama The Fortress (2017) and espionage thriller The Spy Gone North (2018).
It is the third time that a film by Lee has been selected for the Oscars: The first one was Oasis in 2002, the second Secret Sunshine in 2007. However, no Korean film has to date ever reached the final five nominees or has been shortlisted.
Burningwas adapted from the short story “Barn Burning” by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami and revolves around a failed, penniless author who by chance meets a childhood acquaintance, becoming infatuated with her. When she embarks on a trip to Africa, he takes care of her cat. When the woman he loves and adores returns, she introduces him to a mysterious stranger (played by Steven Yeun of “The Walking Dead”) she met during her vacation. While the struggling writer is trying to keep his feelings under control, the mysterious rival soon lets him in on his secret hobby.