'Wu Xia' Director Down on Regional Cinema

Peter Chan cites stronger local films, demand for blockbusters as factors.

BUSAN, South Korea -- Wu Xia director Peter Chan Ho-sun painted a bleak picture for the future of regional cinema on Sunday, stating that there are few opportunities available for films to export to other language markets and that only blockbusters were viable for cinema markets like China.

Chan, making his first appearance at BIFF in a decade, appeared with stars Tang Wei and Takeshi Kaneshiro at a press conference for his film Wu Xia, screening as a gala presentation here, despite wide release in China and Hong Kong this summer.

“Coming from Hong Kong where all our films have to be exported, every market is important, otherwise we cannot survive. Actually fewer and fewer Chinese films are making it to Korea. Local films everywhere are doing better now. The days of being able to do more co-productions is over,” Chan said when asked if Korea was growing in importance as a market for Chinese films.

Despite his pedigree as a blockbuster director, Chan bemoaned the lack of diversity that the popularity of big budget releases can engender. “We are seeing less diversity in films now," he said. "Big local blockbusters are made predominantly for the Chinese market. The economy in China is good so in some ways we can do better, we can survive. But it is sad more films are not crossing over. That’s just a fact,” Chan said.

Global filmgoers’ love of spectacle on a grand scale has long-term implications for the international film sector, Chan added. “This model [of making blockbusters] is pretty much the same everywhere,” he said. “You cannot make a $1-2 million film in China, it has to be $15-20 million, that’s what the audience expects. There is no revenue from making small movies that can be watched at home, as there are no auxiliary rights in China or home video is pirated,” he added.

The director also commented on the less-than-ideal state of the film market in China, despite the rapid expansion of recent years. “China is under-screened right now,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that when you have more screens, that you get more choice. If a multiplex in China has 10 screens, often eight of them will show the same film. Hopefully that will change overtime.”

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