Archives for movie 电影

How China Is Changing Hollywood

中国电影对好莱坞的影响

Thoughtful China is a webpage that posts interviews from different industries on the subject of business in China.  This week is about the film industry.   One of the Interviews is with Kenneth Bi who I just finished working with on a long format web-series.  He’s a great guy and a great director!  There’s some good stuff in here from all the interviewees.

You can watch the video here.

 

This from Thoughful China:

China’s market is booming. Box office revenues rose 30% last year to $2.7 billion. China is expected to overtake the US within a decade, with about 10 new screens opening daily. But China is not an easy market for foreign filmmakers. To protect and nurture its local industry, China strictly limits the number of foreign films that can be shown annually, and films that offend China never make the cut.

So Hollywood’s leading directors are bending over backward to appease local censors. A New York Times article three months ago reported US moviemakers are “even allowing government officials onto movie sets to monitor the filming,” as was the case with Disney and Marvel’s “Iron Man 3.”

At the same time, studios in Hong Kong and China have upgraded production facilities while getting savvier about how they market their own films to overseas viewers, creating stiff competition, especially in other parts of Asia.

Our guests on “Thoughtful China” this week include Jeffrey Soong, CEO of Media Asia Group Holdings; Huayi Brothers’ executive Leigh Gow; Kenneth Bi, director of the upcoming Huayi Bros’ action-thriller “Control” starring Daniel Wu; Loeb & Loeb Partner Stephen Saltzman; and Sirena Liu, founder of Filmworks China Entertainment Marketing.

Host Trevor Lai asks these entertainment experts how China is changing the way Hollywood produces and markets motion pictures for the world, current trends evolving China’s own film industry and opportunities for brands to play a role within Chinese and international films.

Find out the answers to these questions and more this week on “Thoughtful China” HERE.

Executive Producer: Normandy Madden – Senior VP, Thoughtful China
Host: Trevor Lai – CEO, Up Studios
Featured Guest: Jeffrey Soong – CEO, Media Asia Group Holdings
Commentary: Sirena Liu – President, Filmworks China Entertainment Marketing
Panelists: Kenneth Bi – Writer/Film Director
Leigh Gow – Managing Director, Huayi Brothers Fashion Group
Stephen Saltzman – Partner, Loeb & Loeb
Episode Summary: China’s market is booming, but it remains a tough market for foreign filmmakers, due to strong local competition and strict import controls and censorship. This week on “Thoughtful China,” host Trevor Lai asks entertainment experts how China is changing the way Hollywood produces and markets motion pictures for the world, current trends evolving China’s own film industry and opportunities for brands to play a role within Chinese and international films.

Mr. Go International Trailer
《大明猩》国际预告片

No matter where you are in the world, sometimes you just wanna have fun at the movies!  Good on em’, I’ll bet this thing does huge business world wide…  I’m rooting for that CG Mr. Go!

 

mr-go-6-resized

 

 

 

HONG KONG — “Mr Go,” which releases today in South Korea and on Thursday in China is a big bet by any standards.

Costing some $25 million to produce, the film is a hybrid live action/CGI comedy-drama about a Chinese gorilla who becomes a super-sized hero in Korea’s professional baseball league.

It necessitated amounts of motion capture and digital effects that are unprecedented in a Korean movie – the gorilla Ling Ling, initially animated by an actor wearing crutches strapped to his forearms, appears in about 1,000 of the film’s 2,000 shots. And it was filmed in native stereoscopic 3-D.That all required director Kim Yong-hwa to set up an off-the-shelf company, Dexter Film, and to employ 150 CG professionals.

On top of that the movie is structured as a full Korean-Chinese co-production, involving Korea’s Showbox/Mediaplex and China’s Huayi Bros. There’s a growing tide of these co-operative ventures, but it is still rare for Chinese companies to put up hard cash and take a minority position. Huayi is understood to have invested some $6 million as well as its p&a commitment. The Chinese studio named it as one of its four key movie releases of 2013.

With obstacles and ambitions of that scale, the film also needed some inbuilt advantages. It is based on a popular cartoon series “The 7th Team,” penned by Heo Young-man, which gives it an inbuilt audience awareness in Korea, though Kim has been free with his adaptation of the story. Second, Kim has a strong track record as director of hit “200 Pound Beauty” and sports comedy “Take Off.”

Kim says he was inspired by the empathy between characters in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” whereas FX supervisor Jung Sung-jin says he watched classic gorilla movies including “Congo,” “Rise of The Planet of The Apes” and “King Kong.”

Kim and Jung also report that they had to pick their VFX team very carefully and painstakingly help the animators to unlearn much of what they had previously established as working practice. Making the CG invisible was their biggest challenge

Rest of the Variety Article here:

JIANG WEN’s “Gone With The Bullets” Oh yeah!!
姜文的《一步之遥》喔耶!

GoneWithBullets-002-1024x310

PIXOMONDO is honored to work with Director JIANG WEN on his new feature film “Gone With The Bullets”

PIXOMONDO荣幸参与姜文导演新片《一步之遥》

Gone With The Bullets is set in 1920′s Shanghai. “It will be another action drama about contests of wits and power. It has a tense pace and is full of Jiang Wen’s playful imagination but on a grander scale,” says Marco Ma co-owner of Beijing-based Buyilehu Films.

《一步之遥》故事设定在19世纪20年代的大上海。“这将会是姜导另一个关于智慧与力量争夺的动作影片。这部影片富有紧张的节奏,并充满着姜文式顽皮的想象力。”北京不亦乐乎影视公司合伙人马柯提到。

Pixomondo is in charge of all Visual Effects works on the project and is tasked with the development of key visual effects sequences. Pixomondo Beijing’s Senior VFX Supervisor, John Dietz, is leading our international team and we look forward to further collaboration from pre-production (including previz and concept art) through shooting and in to post-production.

Pixomondo全权负责这部影片的视效内容,并参与重大特效场次的艺术创作。由 Pixo北京公司高级视效总监John Dietz带领这支国际团队,热情饱满,目前正加紧进行前期制作(包括前期预演和概念设定),随后将进入现场监理以及后期制作。

You can check out the full blurb on the Pixo website here.

It’s great to be working with Pixomondo on this project.  We’re doing some great things in Beijing.  For those of you in the west, Jiang Wen is the best and most famous domestic Chinese director.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out his films… Please, Please close your web-browser and go find one right now.  Here’s a link to his IMDB.  Check out Devils On The Doorstep and The Sun Also Rises.  He’s an amazing actor as well…  He’s cool & I’m honored to be working with such an amazing filmaker!  This is sure to be a special film!

Gone_with_the_bullets_poster

jiangWen

Keanu’s Directing Debut

keanu

I’m not sure how big of news it is in the west, but Keanu Reeves just release his Directorial Debut film:  The Man Of Tai Chi.  It’s a Chinese film for Chinese audiences with the intent to make distribution in the west.

I saw the film and it’s ok… some great action, but way too much of it.  It has moments where you feel like you’re watching a Hong Kong film of the 70’s…  The movie’s main failing is Keanu’s casting choice for his hero,  Tiger Chen, a stunt man who has to be questioned for his acting chops.  I don’t want to review the film, so I’ll shut up about it creatively.  If you want to read reviews there are a couple here:

Variety

Hollywood Reporter

What’s interesting is the business end of the film…  It’s a western film / filmmaker spending money in China to make a Chinese films.

Unfortunately it tanked!  Less then US$3mil on opening weekend which means probably less than US$10mil for all it’s Chinese run.  Reportedly the film was picked up by the Weinstein Co. so hopefully it’ll have a good global run.

There’s a little article about the movie at chinafilmbiz.com

The movie is about a young martial artist’s unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club.

Here’s a link to the trailer.

 

box office news

Blank admission or raffle tickets

 

Box Office News

According to official government statistics released yesterday, China’s box office grew 36.2% from RMB8.07 billion (US$1.31 billion) in the first half of 2012 to RMB11.0 billion (US$1.79 billion) in the first six months of 2013. Domestic films were the major beneficiary.

Chinese films secured a market share of 62.3% in the first half of 2013, up from 35% one year ago. At RMB6.85 billion (US$1.12 billion), that represents a 144% year-on-year revenue growth for local films at the expense of foreign films, including Hollywood titles, which declined 21.3% to RMB4.14 billion (US$674 million).

However, the growth of the domestic market was dependent on a small number of hits. The ten highest grossing domestic films — of 117 Chinese films or China co-production films released in the first half of 2013 — accounted for two-thirds of domestic box office income.

Four of the top ten grossing films in the first half of the year are domestic: Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons 西游 降魔篇 (RMB1.24 billion), So Young 致我們終將逝去的青春 (RMB719 million), American Dreams in China 中國合伙人 (RMB539 million) and Finding Mr. Right 北京遇上西雅圖 (RMB520 million).

Among foreign films, only Iron Man 3 (RMB751 million) broke RMB500 million (US$81.5 million), the new milestone for a blockbuster hit in China’s dynamic film market. There is a single animation in the top ten, The Croods (RMB393 million), which had an extended run on local screens.

Despite the decline of foreign films at the box office, China remains a strong market for Hollywood films. G.I. Joe: Retaliation ‘s RMB338 million (US$55.1 million) gross accounted for over 20% of its total international revenue. China was also the best performing territory for Iron Man 3, accounting for 15% of its international income.

VisPop’s work on The Hunger Games 维斯泡泡与《饥饿游戏》

So VisPop just finished up working with Rising Sun Pictures on the “The Hunger Games”.  We came in to help supervise on 209 of the film’s more difficult shots.  We worked closely with the filmmakers and the artists at RSP to execute some amazing visual effects work on what will become one of the years biggest High Spectacle films.

Our main responsibilities for the Hunger Games were the Mutations, the Capital City and the full Tribute Parade sequence including Katniss & Peeta’s Fire wings.  We also worked on a whole load of other cg environments, misc 2d/3d work and Katniss’ kick ass fire dress.  The Capital City was a huge challenge!  The design process went on for a long time, but it is well worth it in the results.  It was very clear that nothing like The Capital has ever existed so it had to be created in cg.  The closest reference was probably Welthauptstadt Germania which we came back to a lot for ideas.  The next biggest challenge were the mutations!  Anytime you get into creature work it’s great and the concept here made it all the more kick-ass.  The hardest part, not unlike any creature work, was in working out how anthropomorphised the critters were.  In this case how much of the characteristics come from the tributes and how much comes from a dog?  I’m really proud of how they turned out, I think the guys did some fantastic cg on the Muts.  It was great to work with Daniel Jeannette again.  He did an amazing job directing the animation!  The other big challenge was the Tribute Parade.  The Tributes, Snow, and some of the close-up crowds were live action, but the rest of that entire sequence is cg.  We did all the Presidential Palace and Avenue, lots and lots of crowd work, all the fire wings… man, just a lot of work.  But when you sit down and see that sequence pieced together it nails the aesthetic of the Capital.  Anytime the visual effects pound home that tone in a smart way you feel proud to have brought that work to the project.

We really do feel privileged to have been part of such an amazing high spectacle film that is clearly destined to have a huge impact on society and culture.  We’ve just returned from Hong Kong where the media storm for Hunger Games is as big as it is here in Sydney.  We haven’t been in North America while the marketing frenzy has been ramping up, but we’re hearing the scale that Lionsgate is pushing the film is almost unprecedented, particularly for a mid-major studio.  It’s all well worth it, the film stays really close to the book and the book is fantastic.  My personal opinion is they have really nailed the empowerment angle for kids.  In the Narnia films, for example, the kids become kings and queens and their empowerment comes through the responsibility those roles bring.  In Hunger Games the kids are thrown into a more gritty and real context where self survival (and all of society’s survival by proxy) becomes the empowerment.  I can see that extra edge being attractive to kids and teens.  Combine in high spectacle action and dystopian, anti-government themes for an entertaining experience for the older demographic  AND of course there’s plenty of romance and elegant dresses.  It’s a cool concept for a film (actually 3-4 films) and no-doubt will cane it at the box office!

VisPop is incredibly proud of the people we collaborated with on the show and would like to think the visual fx work will stand out as some of 2012′s best!  It was great to work with RSP again.  We always have a lot of time for the folks over there in Adelaide who continually are working on some of Hollywoods best!  So go drop the $18AU for a movie ticket, another $10 for some popcorn and sit back to be entertained by High Spectacle Film at it’s best.  Ohhh, not to take sides but VisPop is definitely team Gale… (and Peta sucks.)

Vispop will be @ Filmart!

WE’VE DONE A NEW FOLIO OF OUR 2012 SLATE FOR FILMART HERE  (we’d love feedback!)

Hey folks…  Vispop is traveling to Hong Kong for Filmart from the 19th to the 22nd of March.  We’re looking to build relationships for our English language, High spectacle Independent films to be co-produced in Asia.  Our background comes from Hollywood blockbuster films like the Harry Potters, Terminator Salvation, Wolverine and many more.

Take a look at our newly released  2012 slate  of films and see if you’re interested!  Just drop James or myself an email (james@vispop.com & jdietz@vispop.com) if you’d like to get together and chat about us or yourselves.  We’re looking forward to all the great events at Filmart and the list of attendees looks fantastic.  We can’t wait to be back in Hong Kong!  Hope everyone has a great Show!

cheers!

(We’re gonna try and tweet quite a bit from the show, so follow us on twitter!)

John Carter of Meh

I have a question for Andrew Stanton.

I just came out of John Carter of Mars…  I’m a huge Andrew Stanton fan and a huge Pixar fan, but I was really bummed out about this film.   This past week Stanton’s Ted Talk on storytelling has been going around the web.  It’s a great watch!  In that talk he goes on about a number of storytelling techniques he’s learned over the years.  Two of his tips kept ringing through my head while sitting in an empty Imax theater watching John Carter.

  1. No matter what, give the audience a reason to care.
  2. Make your Hero likable.

That leads to my question:

How does one of the better storytellers of our generation set out on his first live action film with a budget around $250 million and not follow his own storytelling rules? How does this happen??

Hey, I’m a spectacle guy… (hell, who isn’t into some popcorn munchin space opera?) but Stanton didn’t take his own advice:  Does amazing cg give me a reason to care?  No… Does a huge weepy score give me a reason to care?  No…  Does a giant battle scene where JC is buried in the dead bodies he’s carving up make me care?  Well… Kinda…  BUT, over the top film-making techniques alone don’t make us care!  You know what makes us care?  Stanton’s rule #2:

Make the hero likable.  Repeat: Make the hero likable…  Man, after Stanton’s Ted Talk the last thing I thought would happen was that John Carter would be such a dick!  In the Ted Talk Stanton showed a board-amatic of early days Toy Story.  Tom Hanks is a total dick!  He’s berating and bullying the toys, and he’s being a full on dick.  That’s right, Woody was a dick (no pun intended).  Stanton tells the story of how they had made Woody a dick so that his arc could be more dramatic.  The story wasn’t working but through hard work they (Pixar) figured out they needed to write him likable.  That lesson, Stanton says, was one of the main things they took away from the Toy Story experience.   It’s ironic: With $250mil, armies of technicians and artists, years of planning and execution he couldn’t make John Carter likable.  BUT with half of the budget, less time and nowhere near the crew; Brad Bird was able to make Tom Cruise likable in Mission Impossible 4.  You would of thought it would of taken the $100mil vfx budget to make Tom Cruise endearing (post 1980’s of course).   I guess we know who of the Freshmen Brainstrust has successfully crossed over out of Pixar.

I don’t wanna be a hater, I love Stanton’s films!  Wall-E is one of the classic stories in filmmaking.  Pixar and Stanton have balls down to their ankles to make the first half of Wall-E a silent film.  It set the benchmark for this years Oscar winner “The Artist”.  Pixar and the Braintrust have always had balls, going all the way back to Toy Story.  As far as story goes, Pixar and their directors would not be denied.   As far as John Carter goes:  I didn’t care.  There was nothing new.  AND it was flat out on the nose…  John Carter has no balls.

We still love you Andrew!  But next time, please, give us a reason to care.

VisPop@Workshop In Sydney

Dan over at Nerdi asked us to be a part of his workshop “Interesting” on Monday night in downtown Sydney.  The speakers will each get a little bit of time to chat about themselves and then there will be a Q&A.  After, the audience will breakout with the speakers and do a bit of a workshop.

I’m gonna talk about taking a film idea and turning it into a practical pitch that can be used to go out and get financing!

Since VisPop is a production company , I’m going to slant it into what we at VisPop want to see to get us excited and then involved in people’s projects.  So everything will be slanted from VisPop’s perspective of High Spectacle Low Budget Films.

During the “Interesting” Workshop we’ll make a list of the key questions you need to ask yourself/yourGroup before investing time or resources into pitching a film.  VisPop will then setup a website where the group will continue defining a pitch brief for a project the group wants to develop.  If the group is interested, VisPop will continue helping the group  work on the pitch.  If the group is STILL interested and have finished the pitch, VisPop will assess the pitch and see if we want to get involved with the project officially, or possibly we can pass on the pitch to people we know.  Then who knows, maybe the film will get made?

There are gonna be some great speakers and the guys at Nerdi are awesome, so we’re really looking forward to the night!  Come on along, the info is below.

jdietz

 

Film making for independent film makers has always been an art of love. There is such a huge wealth of creative talent out there but sadly so many of their ideas never make it to a screen.“Interesting” – a film funding and distribution workshop, endeavours to remove the inhibitions that stop these great ideas. We have assembled a group of inspiring and innovative people who will address the process of creating sustainable film making.
It all starts with an idea… Let’s make it possible to make it reality.Adam Chapnick is a principle at IndieGoGo.com and the founder of Distribber.com. Adam is a new-model film distribution specialist known for flipping Hollywood convention on its ear by employing a mix of grassroots, online and digital distribution strategies. He has overseen the theatrical, home video and grassroots distribution of dozens of documentaries since 2002.

Simon Sheikh is national director of the community advocacy group GetUp! GetUp is an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation giving everyday Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues. Simon has used the medium of film to great effect for social change through GetUp!’s campaigns.

Jemima Robinson is the Australian director of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Jemima has been running the festival for 6 years and has a unique insight into film festivals and the selection criteria. Jemima is passionate about film and adventure and regularly travels to some of the most remote locations to pursue these passions.

Gabrielle Rogers & Georgina Drury are obsessed with film, education and students. They are a Director and Producer team who have created some of the most beautiful Shakespeare interpretations to inspire students into a love affair with Shakespeare and film. They have collaborated with NIDA and the FTO to realise their dream. They have recemntly launched Shakespeare Shorts a series of 3 short films based on his enduring plays A midsummer Nights Dream, Hamlet and Sonnets.

John Dietz is the co-founder of the Fox Studios based production company VisPop. As a visual effects supervisor on films like 28 Weeks Later, Where the Wild Things Are, Terminator: Salvation and most recently The Hunger Games, John is known for leading large teams with passion and commitment, and delivering results that blow audiences away. For the past year he and his colleagues at VisPop have been drawing on this blockbuster experience to develop a slate of high concept, visual effects heavy independent films. John is determined to create original, quality content that will resonate with lovers of high spectacle films around the world.

Prometheus Q&A

I’m lining up for this bad boy!  Can not wait for this film to come out!

Read all about the Prometheus Q&A <here> on <bleedingCool.com>