China Film Group announced a line-up of 28 films at a large event on the sidelines of the Shanghai International Film Festival that feted both the mainland’s main distributor and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“Nearly a thousand film industry people wished the motherland a beautiful and happy birthday” at the gathering held Sunday at the Hilton Hotel in the city’s Hongqiao district, the company said on social media.
Chairman La Peikang gave an opening speech that highlighted the box office success of the Spring Festival hit “The Wandering Earth” and “My Best Summer,” a rom-com that’s made nearly $50 million in its two weeks so far in theaters. La praised them as ventures that have been “win-wins for China Film Group and its partners.”
“The prosperity of China’s film industry depends on the joint efforts of many filmmakers and companies. We must take a path of cooperative, win-win development,” he said.
The company’s long upcoming slate includes the $50 million upcoming Russian-China fantasy adventure involving Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan. “Viy 2: The Mystery of Dragon Seal: Journey to China,” a sequel to the 2014 Russian film “Viy,” which was not released in China, is directed by Oleg Stepchenko and involves an entirely Russian creative team, though Chan is also listed as a producer. It is jointly backed by Russia Film Group and has fixed a Sept. 19 release date in its home territory, where it will be distributed by Universal.
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Another eyebrow-raising title is “Chinese Autobots.” The “Transformers” franchise films have long been a mainstay of Chinese cinema fare, making up two of the top 30 performing titles of all time in country. In January, the spin-off “Bumblebee” made more than $160 million in China. The country came under fire in 2015 for an animated film called “The Autobots,” which stole the “Transformers” universe term as a title for a feature that blatantly pirated Disney/Pixar’s “Cars” series. The Chinese film made $840,000 (RMB5.8 million), while 2011’s “Cars 2” made $10.9 million (RMB75 million) and “Cars 3” made $19.9 million (RMB137 million).
China Film’s lineup features four animated titles. One, about the maritime silk road, boasts two main characters that bear a close resemblance to those from Disney’s “Moana.” The poster for CFG’s 3D animated feature “Pets United” features characters remarkably similar to the pug Mel from Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets” and a robot cross between Baymax of “Big Hero 6” and Eva from “Wall-E.” “Secret Life of Pets 2” is set to hit mainland theaters on July 5. The first film grossed $56.2 million in China.
The Shanghai gala highlighted China Film’s status as a firm with a “sense of responsibility and mission to closely revolve around the (Communist) Party and the country’s promotion of overall cultural work,” the company said.