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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Weekend
A new market for Chinese Internet films
    2018-January-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

MANY Chinese watch productions by Netflix, an American entertainment streaming media provider, on Chinese online video websites. As a result, Netflix series, like the TV series “House of Cards” and “Black Mirror,” have gained a huge fan base in China.

But now change is in the air. Last week, it was announced that “Chosen,” a three-part Chinese thriller, will be broadcast on Netflix later this month, and is to become the first Internet-tailored film from China to be released on the leading American broadcast platform.

The film is a production of iQiyi.com, an arm of Chinese Internet giant Baidu and one of the country’s major streaming media platforms. It was first released on iQiyi on Jan. 7, but the premiere date for Netflix has not yet been decided.

“Chosen” was adapted from a U.S. TV series of the same title which first screened in 2013.

The original series centered around a lethal game in which the protagonist receives a box containing a gun and a picture of a stranger, along with instructions to kill the person.

In the Chinese adaption, the story is set around a Chinese couple in Sydney, Australia.

The cast includes actress Deng Jiajia, Taiwan actor-singer Lan Cheng-lung and Han Pengyi, an actor best known for his stage performances.

According to Dou Lili, the general manager of online films at iQiyi, some changes were made to make the production more attractive for Chinese audiences.

For instance, the lead role played by Lan was changed from a lawyer in the original series to a physician, a profession more familiar to the Chinese. “We also focused on family values and an exploration of human nature,” he says.

Nevertheless, he says that efforts were made to make the film feel more “international.” To that end, Australian actor Sam Hayden-Smith was invited to join the main cast.

For now, it looks that the attempt to remake an American TV series with Chinese elements and sell it to the American market is working.

“If we export our own films, overseas distribution is more difficult,” says Dou. “But, an adaption of something familiar to American audiences seems to make things easier.”

Distribution channels also matter.

For “Chosen,” Sony Pictures participated in the distribution of the Chinese Internet production for the first time.

Commenting on the new trend, Huang Dai, the vice president of Sony Pictures in China who is in charge of film distribution, says, “Diversification is an irreversible trend for Chinese films.

“But, as a traditional film distributor, we also need insights into what is favored by filmgoers, and more new methods of distribution.”

In April 2017, iQiyi reached an agreement with Netflix, and “Chosen” has become the first result of this partnership.

And for Chinese films tailored for the Internet, the foray by Chosen marks a milestone. In 2016, as many as 2,500 films were distributed exclusively through online platforms, with 1,780 streamed by iQiyi. However, only about 1,900, including 1,321 through iQiyi, went online in 2017.

Dou disagrees with the view that 2017 marked a low point for Chinese online films, but says the decline was the signal of an important change.

“Online films now need to be high quality,” he says. “In 2015, poor quality films with eye-catching gimmicks could easily make money through the Internet, but that situation has changed. Now, you can only achieve high ratings if you polish your productions,” he says.

“This year, the Internet film industry will become similar to the cinema.”

After the debut of “Chosen,” more Chinese series will also venture to the United States. For instance, “Tientsin Mystic” and “Burning Ice,” two popular iQiyi productions from 2017, are scheduled to be aired on Netflix in the first quarter of 2018.

Moreover “Day and Night” by Youku, another major streaming media platform in China, will soon hit Netflix.

Looking to the future, Yang Xianghua, the vice president of iQiyi, says: “Better business models and distribution channels will help good Chinese online productions succeed abroad, gain partners and widen the horizons of the industry.”

Streaming video sites are now wildly popular in China, with an estimated 144 million subscribers per year, up 80 percent over last year. Rapid growth is also occurring in many other territories around the globe.

To tap into this growing phenomenon, the cornerstone of Netflix’s aggressive growth plan was for rapid tactical expansion into every country and region in the world.

Last year, in a letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells told investors that their goal was to “successfully operate a small service in China centered on our original and other globally licensed content.”

The American online streaming giant is no stranger to Chinese content. In addition to “Day and Night,” they have previously streamed other Chinese and Hong Kong favorites such as: “Empresses in the Palace,” “All Quiet in Peking,” “My Sunshine,” “Beautiful Secret,” “Diamond Lover,” “Crime Scene Investigation Center,” “Keep the Marriage as Jade,” “Shuttle Love Millenium,” “Elite Brigade” and “The Family Doctor,” amongst others.

(China Daily)

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