Aftershock, filmed like The Banquet or The Day After Tomorrow? Decide!

The poster for Aftershock. Source: China news

Today is the opening of Feng Xiaogang's Aftershock (唐山大地震), a tear-jerker of a movie, with the promoters hinting that there won't be a dry eye in the cinema.

Based on the big earthquake of Tangshan in 1976, Feng's wife Xu Fan plays a mother who has to choose which of her offsprings will live. The film is also the first I-MAX movie made out of the United States, and predicted to be a top box office smash.

The Liaoshen Evening News published an investigation into the commercial backing of the film, interviewing its producer on the Tangshan side, Yao Jianguo (姚建国):

The Tangshan side of the project expressed that it wanted to 'invite' first-rate directors from the mainland to direct the film, but as for how much capital to invest, they didn't have a full picture. At this point in time, the deputy director of the Film Bureau of SARFT, Zhang Hongsen (张宏森) gave Tangshan three different packages. They were:

  • Invest 50 million yuan, use The Knot (云水谣) as the standard;
  • Invest 1.2 hundred million yuan, use The Banquet (夜宴) as the standard;
  • Invest 3 hundred million yuan, use The Day After Tomorrow and Red Cliff (赤壁) as the standard.

The team eventually chose the second offer. They had considered choosing Zhang Yimou or Chen Kaige to direct the film, but when both directors were unavailable they turned to "Feng Xiaogang, who was good at using small characters to reflect real times, and made commercial New Year movies (贺岁电影)" based on the release of war movie The Assembly (集结号), which made him appear more serious.

At the end of the article there was a 'related links' section, which summed up the Chinese film industry in very plain terms:

High production rate: In one year China is able to make 500 films

Dong Gang (童刚), the director of the Film Bureau of SARFT, said that in the first half year this year China produced 288 films. This year the total production rate could reach 500. This figure is third in the world after India and America. (From Tianjin Daily)

Quite sad: The percentage of loss for Chinese films is 70%

The deputy manager of the big shot New Film Association, Gao Jun (高军), accepted an interview and said that most of the films in China are cutting a loss. This is true for the majority of the 20 films shown in June. For example, Love In Cosmos (摇摆de婚姻) stopped showing after not making 5 million yuan, Ocean Heaven (海洋天堂) will hardly make the 8 million yuan it spent on production, and it would be hard for Welcome to Shamatown (决战刹马镇) to make a profit on its 16 million yuan production and 8 million yuan running costs. "At the moment procedures should be taken to cool down the market." (From Dahe Daily)

Links and Sources
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives