And China Just Keeps Going and Going

What was I saying about China and numbers…

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Rich,

Man, I had this weird dream where you said you wouldn’t be joining social media. Yeah, my mind was out in left field on that one.

Signed,

A crazy fan who’s been watching videos from @Chinese With Mike. You might check him out!

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Part of me is glad for Richard Armitage. He’s worked hard at his craft, and now he’s able to ride the wave created by Peter Jackson and The Hobbit. The other part of me hopes this will bode well for his delving into something worthy of his abilities. Numbers can do that if they are used wisely.

We’ll see how it works out for Richard, and if he’s able to parlay this into something, or if it’s just a fun thing to do with the Chinese fans.

I hope it’s both.

note: Weibo is used by roughly 30% of Internet users in China, and is considered on par with Twitter. It’s actually sort of a combination of Twitter and Facebook in how it behaves functionally.

And You Wonder Why China is Fast Becoming the Driver for the Movie Industry

Whether it’s fair or not, numbers (and especially somewhat sure numbers) matter to those who are investing in movies. Some of them may only be doing it for the money (gasp) and not for artistic reasons. Investors know China only allows a limited number of foreign films into the country’s theaters, and the foreign movies China most wants to see are comic book movies, fantasy movies and 3D movies, and lo and behold that is what dominates the all-time grossing movies.

Considering China’s appetite, it’s a no brainer Peter Jackson and company went to China, and now with the premiere of Battle of the Five Armies in China, it will be significantly helped along to the billion dollar club. And this won’t be the first time China will help considerably in putting a Hobbit movie in the club. It will just do it much sooner than the last time with the earlier release, which is probably to thwart piracy making inroads into the box office receipts. The last two movies were released in China in late February.

But Peter Jackson’s gratefulness to China aside, he has to be aware of the changing landscape in Chinese movie making. I suspect he wanted to go to China as much as WB may have wanted him to go to China, since he is not only a movie maker but a service provider with his movie studio and special effects crew. Yep, China is a great source of revenue for anyone in his business. And whatever happens to Peter Jackson, I’m intensely curious about what will happen with the export of Chinese made movies and whether it will increase exponentially.

Mandarin anyone? :D

If you get a chance read the blog I link in that reference about piracy. All aspects of China’s economic impact (the least of which is the movie industry) have fascinated me for years, and I’ve been reading Rob Cain for a while. Just wish he posted more often.

EDIT: a little update for those who may not have thought 16M+ for an opening night was that much. The weekend was three nights, and it made 49M+. That’s USD. That’s over 5% of what the movie has made so far.

Dorktastic Returns

So Richard Armitage went to China for The Hobbit premiere, and it’s been well covered, but I’ve got to add my two.

We’ve been treated to an array of photos of this caliber:

RichardArmitage by Sarah Dunn

…courtesy of Sarah Dunn and her Leica, and all designed to make us go, “Oooh, Baby!” and I do at times. Yeah, I sometimes think, “Wow…”

But mostly I think, “You’ve come a long way from this, Baby:”
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or maybe not:

Dorktastic Richard in ChinaScreencap from this video of Richard thanking the Chinese fans

Richard,

It’s a secure and happy man who lets his dorktastic out in public. I love that you can still do that and the publicists be damned. No offense to your publicist.

And now that you’re proficient with a selfie stick:

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…you just needed one other thing for your China trip — a GoPro attached to that panda hat. And if you ever get a dog, he can wear one too.

Signed,
One of your crazy fans

P.S. Sometimes I feel for you in having a lot of your existence, including some of your childhood, trotted out for all to see. But the panda hat overrode any feelings of protection I may feel. :D

For those who have never seen Richard Armitage at a red carpet event, you have no idea how good he is with a camera phone. Oh, man, the dude can take a shot. And it makes sense; otherwise, he would have to wait for a nervous fan to fumble around.

I wonder when he decided to start taking selfies. It wasn’t in 2007 when he went to the BAFTAs (scroll down for the videos), but then the selfie didn’t really come into its own until the advent of the iPhone which was less than two years old at the time.

Maybe I Spoke Too Soon

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Rob Cain at ChinaFilmBiz just posted the weekend’s gross for The Hobbit in China. It falls short of projections and will probably not reach the billion dollar club until sometime in early March. Of course this will be considered a loss of which piracy is a contributor, but Cain has a point about the mood of the Chinese viewers. And now I’m also second guessing my scoffing at the insider assessment Peter Jackson was forced to make the film in 3D. Maybe he understood something Warners didn’t. Maybe he reads Rob’s blog? ;-)

And I had to snaffle that cool Chinese Hobbit poster. Thank you, Rob. :D

edit: I’ve had a few minutes to think and still believe Jackson was not strong armed into making The Hobbit in 3D. He is too curious about technology and is in such a glorious position to push the envelope on 3D HFR.

The Hobbit on the Threshold of the Billion Dollar Club

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The Hobbit’s box office receipts are recorded at $960,001,896 as of today, but this time next week, it’s likely to officially join the small number of other films which have reached a billion dollars in revenue. The film’s release in China this weekend is cause for such confidence. What happy timing considering the broadcast of Oscar presentations and the dearth of nominations for The Hobbit — excepting the wonderful Tami Lane and Weta Digital bunch.

I wasn’t always this optimistic it could reach the benchmark this quickly. After reading about the piracy which can ensue when there’s a considerable lag time between a film’s release in other countries and China, it was hard not to think The Hobbit would go the way of Skyfall. But I forgot something, and it wasn’t the love affair the Chinese seem to have with fantasy. They also love 3D. This was so easy to forget since it’s never been very popular in America. In fact it has been talked about for years as being dead. I will admit 48fps might resurrect it some, but people have to be willing to give it a try first. I’m not confident that enough in the U.S. did that with Jackson’s movie. But in China, 3D is the rage and will go a long way toward pulling the Chinese to the cinema.

At Comic-Con last year someone in the film industry told me Peter Jackson was more or less forced by Warner Brothers to make it in that format. I’m not sure I agree that Jackson had to be forced especially when I consider his business savvy. But now that I understand the piracy issue a little more, it makes sense Warners would be adamant about it. It’s a kind of insurance policy against piracy. And when considering the box office receipts of the top grossing movies, e.g., Avatar, it’s abundantly clear the format will survive well beyond The Hobbit. But even if the receipts hadn’t been so bent toward 3D, the fastest growing area of the film market is in China, so it more than the U.S. is dictating what we will be seeing. And all of it makes me wonder if indie films will suffer, but that’s for another post.

If you didn’t click on the Skyfall link, I hope you will at some point. It leads to the China Film Biz blog written by Rob Cain who has been been doing business in the industry in China since 1987. He is a wealth of knowledge.

And now a poster featuring our guy since we can’t get enough of looking at him. :D

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[click to enlarge]

The facial features are very finely done and the entire poster seems to have an Asian quality. Whatever that is. Someone more articulate than I am may explain.