×

Low-key vibe to Shanghai festival

Event kicks off 10th anniversary

SHANGHAI — Despite Sharon Stone’s presence, the opening frames of the Shanghai Film Festival were unashamedly local and curiously low key given the event’s 10th anni.

Day one of the fest kicked off with a handful of international names meeting the local press. Stone received a framed picture portraying classical Chinese opera “Farewell My Concubine” from the city’s party secretary and secretary general of the festival, Ren Zhonglun.

Thesps Reggie Lee and Michelle Rodriguez put in appearances and were treated to questions about the difference between sexiness in the West and in China.

Outside the city’s Grand Theater, scene of the opening ceremony, police closed off roads for several blocks and marshaled the excitable human traffic. Crowds were treated to a succession of local celebrities — though not the biggest names in the biz.

Stars turned out, from China mostly, plus a good number of Hong Kongers. Giving the crowd what they came for were Zhou Xun, Feng Xiaogang, Jia Jiangke, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Simon Yam, Maggie Cheung, Johnnie To, Eric Tsang, Daniel Wu, Shu Qi, Chapman To, Korean star Lee Jun-gi and Japanese veteran Yoji Yamada. Execs in attendance included Tsui Siuming and Tsuguhiko Kadokawa.

But the A-listers from the mainland and Hong Kong were absent. Even Jay Chou, the Taiwanese singing sensation turned actor-director, who had attended a junket earlier in the day, was not there. The crowds were entertained by a Mongolian band (corny), some lounge-style formation dancing (almost sexy) and a solo tenor singing Puccini (powerful, but incongruous). In between were a couple of lifetime achievement awards, Chen Kaige’s presentation of the jury, a run-through of clips and, astonishingly, no speeches from politicos or industry apparatchiks. For that omission auds thanked the discipline of live TV.

Rather than go with a mainland movie, opening-night film was Hong Kong-made crimer “Eye in the Sky,” which preemed in Berlin and previously opened the Hong Kong fest in March.

Day two of the festival began with the opening of the new Film Mart. Clearly intended to boost Shanghai’s international film business acumen, the small collection of mostly local stalls were bustling but distinctly lacking in foreign buyers.

Around 30 Chinese companies, mostly studios and production facilities, peddled their wares (a mix of films and TV series) over two floors of the fest-affiliated Crowne Plaza Hotel. Hidden away on a higher floor, a handful of overseas exhibitors were doing very little business but hoping things would pick up before the mart ends Tuesday.

More Film

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Tops $130 Million Overseas

    Disney’s “The Lion King” has roared past $130 million in international ticket sales ahead of its domestic debut, led by $76.6 million in its first week in China. Other markets began launching Wednesday, led by France with $8.3 million in its first two days with the second-biggest opening day for a Disney movie after “Avengers: [...]

  • The Lion King The Gift

    Album Review: Beyoncé’s 'The Lion King: The Gift'

    Before touching down on what Beyoncé has called her “love letter to Africa,” it’s important to see what may have brought her to the mother of mankind, with its wide vistas and sonic planes, for “The Gift” in the first place — beyond, of course, voicing Nala in the film and whatever international marketing tie-ins [...]

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Roars to $23 Million Opening on Thursday Night

    Disney’s “The Lion King” has pounced on a mighty $23 million in North American locations in Thursday night preview showings. It’s the biggest preview number since Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” set the record on April 27 with $60 million. “The Lion King” is expected to debut with $150 million this weekend. Some forecasts estimate the tentpole [...]

  • Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour

    Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour Studios, Home of ‘Krypton’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Belfast Harbour Studios in Northern Ireland, where the Syfy series “Krypton” is shot, is set for a major expansion. The Warner Horizon-produced series has occupied the full site, which currently has two stages, since it opened in 2017. The landowners had signaled that they wanted to expand, and Variety has learned that plans for the [...]

  • Disney Movies

    Why Audiences Are Only Going to Disney Movies

    Julie Bikhman of Manhattan might buy the tickets, but when it comes to deciding what movie to see, her three young children are the ones calling the shots. “We pick them,” her 11-year-old daughter Annie declares before heading into a screening of Disney’s live-action “The Lion King.” “If it’s a Marvel movie, we know it’s [...]

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Rob Schneider Running for SAG-AFTRA Board, Supporting Matthew Modine

    Rob Schneider is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate and as a representative of the union’s San Francisco branch. Schneider is a former cast member on “Saturday Night Live” with movie credits on “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” “The Hot Chick,” “The Benchwarmers,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    'Lion King' VFX Supervisor Rob Legato to Keynote at the 2019 View Conference

    Rob Legato, visual effects supervisor of “The Lion King,” “The Addams Family” co-director Conrad Vernon and Baobab Studios’ co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Darnell, director of the VR studio’s Emmy- and Annie-winning VR short “Crow: The Legend,” are rounding out the keynote speakers at this fall’s 20th edition of the View Conference in Turin, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content