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US movie Civil War coming to Chinese screens

China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-03 09:18

Civil War, a dystopian movie produced by a US independent studio that alludes to the political and social divide in the United States, is scheduled to premiere in movie theaters on the Chinese mainland on June 7.

According to a post by China Film Co, the movie's distributor, on the Weibo microblogging site on May 16, the movie will be released one day before the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, setting it up for tough competition from domestic productions such as the drama Lai Fu Da Jiu Dian, or Life Hotel.

Since the movie premiered in the US in April, many Chinese have shown great interest in it. One trailer released about a week ago by Film American Civil War, one of the official Chinese accounts marketing the film, has garnered around 1.9 million views on Weibo. Another trailer, hosted on the video platform Bilibili, has been played over 1.3 million times.

One reason for the popularity of Civil War among Chinese moviegoers is its political theme, according to industry observers.

Under an import quota system for films, US films shown in China have mainly focused on genres such as adventure and science fiction, with political films making up a small proportion of imports, said Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University. The showing of a US political film like Civil War in domestic theaters is relatively rare, helping it gain attention, he added.

Set in the near-future, the movie, written and directed by Alex Garland, follows a group of reporters who travel across the US as a rapidly escalating civil war engulfs the nation. It features stars including Kirsten Dunst and Wagner Moura.

For many Chinese, Civil War offers a window into contemporary issues in US politics and society.

"I've seen reports in the media about the divisions and conflicts within US society. It would be interesting to watch how Americans see these problems themselves," said Zhou Ruoqi, a 29-year-old employee of a marketing company.

The New York Times reported that the film taps into "a dark set of national anxieties that took hold after the Jan 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol".

The newspaper went on to detect a "bipartisan sense of unease" among people in the US, and the "violence and chaos that subtly and overtly pervades American politics", citing "violent threats against members of Congress" and adding that "reports of hate crimes in the country's largest cities" have reached record levels.

"Although many Chinese have already learned about the complex issues in American society through media coverage, they hope to observe more about the situation in America and its attitude toward China through this movie," Zhang said.

His view was shared by Sun Chenghao, a fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, who said more Chinese people will come to realize the complicated situation in the US through Civil War, an exaggerated artistic work rooted in reality.

Rather than addressing its own problems, the US is distracted by attempting to "solve" the perceived "ills" in other countries, one internet user commented on Weibo.

Dubbed by some US media as potentially "the year's most explosive movie", Civil War has topped the North American box office chart for two consecutive weekends.

The screening of Civil War on the mainland follows the release of a number of Hollywood productions or joint productions this year, including the MonsterVerse mashup Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, the animated film Kung Fu Panda 4 and the sci-fi hit Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

"I predict that Civil War will perform well," Zhang said, stopping short of predicting a blockbuster turnout as he did not expect sensational ticket sales.

In recent years, the appeal of Hollywood movies has been waning among Chinese people, while increasingly diverse, high-quality domestic films have gained in popularity.

"Although they (Hollywood films) present visually impactful spectacles, over time, Chinese audiences have also grown weary of them," said Rao Shuguang, president of the China Film Critics Association.


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