'Red Light Revolution' hits phones and tablets

One of China’s biggest online video websites, Tudou, has released sex-shop laffer “Red Light Revolution” in China as its showcase Lunar New Year feature.

The pic is being tubthumped on Tudou’s front page, and is rolling out to cellphones and portable devices, which is increasingly how Chinese people, especially youngsters, watch movies.

Data released this week shows that the number of Internet users in China has surged past 500 million as millions of new Web surfers go online using mobile phones and tablet computers.

Because of better security and distribution, and a tougher approach by the government to piracy, these mobile moviegoers are watching legally downloaded content. In the last couple of years, Chinese online video companies have started licensing content and creating their own skeins to woo auds.

Keeping prices low is the key to winning viewers to legal downloads in China.

Getting the pic onto Tudou marks a major victory for helmer Sam Voutas’ low-budget pic, about an out-of-work Beijing taxi driver who opens his own sex shop; due to the pic’s content, there had been concerns about whether censors would allow it to screen on the mainland. The pic features an impressive range of marital aids.

It’s the first time Tudou has bought a feature-length pic from foreign filmmakers for its original content catalog. The website will release the pic with Chinese subtitles, using geo-blocking technology.

“The potential audience that this film could reach during Chinese New Year makes me giddy,” says producer Melanie Ansley.

“Most of China will be stuck in transit, with their portable devices for entertainment and in the mood for comedic holiday fun. It will far outweigh any kind of traditional cinema release we could have wrangled, because the nation is on the move while cinemas are geographically fixed.”

The pic is in Mandarin Chinese and features an all-Chinese cast, except for a gangster played by Japanese thesp Masanobu Otsuka and a porn mogul played by Voutas himself.

The film has plenty of lively language but, crucially, it features no nude scenes — instead a chaste inter-title screen appears at particularly risque moments with the message, “This Shot Has Been Deleted.”

“Red Light Revolution” is already in theaters in Toronto, with theatrical releases this week in London and Vancouver.

Its DVD bow? Why, Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day.

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