Streaming platforms prove a plot twist for releasing films
Enter the Fat Dragon became the second film, following Lost in Russia during Spring Festival, to be released on streaming platforms on Feb 1.
It indicates that industry experts believe that theaters across the country may remain closed for the coming weeks amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
皇家棋牌平台The Hong Kong action film premiered on streaming sites iQiyi and Tencent Video on Feb 1, according to its production company Bona Film Group. Starring Donnie Yen, it was scheduled to hit theaters on Feb 14.
It tells the story of a skilled crime fighter who retains his martial arts prowess despite becoming heavily overweight after heart break.
皇家棋牌平台It is available on Tencent Video's subscriber-only VIP Early-Access on-Demand service.
皇家棋牌平台"In order to make a good film available for the audience as soon as possible, we decided to change to an online premiere, hoping to bring a ray of sunshine to everyone in the haze," the film's director, Wong Jing, says.
皇家棋牌平台Due to the government guidelines to avoid people congregating in crowded places, major cinema chains have closed nationwide.
On Jan 30, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern for the coronavirus. However, the UN health body stressed that it does not recommend limiting trade and travel.
皇家棋牌平台The film industry was immediately exposed to a financial hit. Seven blockbusters which had been expected to launch on Jan 25 canceled their release.
Huanxi Media was the first studio to respond to the change by showing Lost in Russia online. Starring Xu Zheng, the comedy had been set to hit theaters on Jan 25.
皇家棋牌平台Due to "the rapid development of the coronavirus", Huanxi says it decided to stream the film for free from Jan 24 on Huanxi's streaming service and the platforms owned by ByteDance, the company behind Toutiao, Douyin and TikTok.
Under the agreement, ByteDance would pay Huanxi 630 million yuan ($90 million) for the deal and eventually create a "film channel" with Huanxi, according to a stock exchange filing.
皇家棋牌平台The film had been projected to bring in at least 2.4 billion yuan in ticket sales.
皇家棋牌平台Within the first three days since its debut, the film had racked up about 600 million views with more than 180 million households watching it, according to Techweb.
It follows the bumpy journey through Russia of a manipulative mother and her middle-aged son who still wants to rebel and escape his mother's smothering influence.
皇家棋牌平台"I saw the film with my parents at home. It makes me reflect on the relationship between my parents and me, and my son and me," says Zhao Kun, a 39-year-old insurance agent in Shanghai.
Although the move seems a win-win for viewers, 22 cinema chains threatened on Jan 24 in an open letter to boycott future cooperation with Huanxi, blaming the studio for harming the industry.
皇家棋牌平台The letter addressed to the industry regulator, the China Film Administration, states that "this goes against the payment and revenue model that the movie industry has cultivated over many years; it is trampling and intentionally destroying the movie industry and premiere models".
皇家棋牌平台Normally, theaters covet their exclusive windows to show first-run films before they hit home video platforms. Theater owners tend to split the ticket sales with distributors.
Lost in Russia "plays a lead role in causing destruction", the letter says.
Video streaming platforms have established a presence in the film business.
Gong Yu, the founder and chief executive officer of iQiyi, forecasted the trend during the Beijing International Film Festival in April, saying that an innovative and disruptive age for the Chinese movie industry will soon arrive.
In 2015, the US streaming service Netflix was boycotted by major film chains for its first original film Beasts of No Nation, breaking the traditional window between theatrical release and video-on-demand access.
皇家棋牌平台It exposed a theatrical business fraught with growing worry for the multiplatform release model.
Besides the video platforms, data proves that the holiday is turning out to be a huge boon for the internet entertainment sector.
皇家棋牌平台From Jan 21 to 27, games, videos and medicine were listed as the most popular genres among the 50 fastest-growing apps, according to online data service provider Qimai Technology.
Tencent Games confirms that King of Glory皇家棋牌平台 made about 2 billion yuan on Jan 24, a record high. Industry experts estimate that the game could make more than 9 billion yuan last month due to increasing active players and longer playing times during the ongoing novel coronavirus.
With limited contact with the real world, connections to cyberspace have surged.