Zhang, Feng attend Party confab
BEIJING — Chinese helmers Zhang Yimou and Feng Xiaogang are lobbying for lower ticket prices to lure more auds, as they attend this week’s annual legislature in Beijing as advisers.“I care about entrance prices, let’s make it more affordable for people to watch movies in theaters,” said Zhang, the “Flowers of War” and “Hero” helmer as he walked into the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square. There were red stars, red flags and red-clad hostesses to escort the 3,000-odd delegates, most of them senior Communist Party cadres and tycoons, plus Zhang, Feng and fellow helmers Feng Xiaoning, Chen Guoxing and Zhang Huijun, prexy of the China Film Academy. The cost of going to the movies varies widely in China but it’s not unusual to pay over $7 for a ticket, a chunk of change in a country where the average monthly income per capita is about $200. The filmmakers hope to make a proposal on “support and rectification of the film industry.” Aside from greater discounts on ticket prices to help domestic movies, they also want a boost in construction of theaters in second- and third-tier cities. By the end of last year, the number of screens nationwide had exceeded 9,200, up 33% on 2010, while the number of cinemas increased 29% to 2,800, but most of these were in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The Communist Party recently said that culture was a “pillar industry” to be nurtured and promoted. China’s B.O. swept past $2 billion for the first time in 2011, according to the government’s film bureau, a 29% hike on the previous year, so senior figures in the film biz carry a lot of weight these days. They also want more efforts to crack down on piracy. The biz reps will join an influential advisory body linked to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference during the 10-day annual gathering, known in China as the Two Meetings. The other section is the National People’s Congress, where delegates will rubber-stamp bills set before them by the Communist Party leadership. The chief objective of the confab will be to ensure stability as the Party begins the process this fall of handing over power. Likely candidate to replace president Hin Jintao is Xi Jinping, a movie buff who recently oversaw a deal during his visit to Hollywood that opened up China’s 20-film quota on foreign movies to allow 14 more pics in and to give foreign companies a greater percentage of the take.