A slate of Chinese propaganda films rubs shoulders with high-profile Hollywood movies on Tencent Pictures’ upcoming lineup.
The firm confirmed its investment in U.S. projects including TriStar Pictures’ “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a film about beloved TV host Mr. Rogers, starring Tom Hanks; “Monster Hunter,” Paul W.S. Anderson’s next film adaptation of a video game; “Wish Dragon,” being co-produced by Sony Pictures Animation and China’s Base Animation; Paramount Pictures’ “Terminator: Dark Fate,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and “Top Gun: Maverick,” with Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly.
All the major private-sector Chinese films studios are this year involved in patriotic pictures that not long ago would have been the preserve of China’s state-owned propaganda machine.
But Tencent appears to be playing it especially safe politically this year with a domestic slate of film and TV choices designed to appeal to Chinese authorities. At an event Monday night on the sidelines of the Shanghai International Film Festival, choices were presented in descending order of political correctness.
Its lineup kicks off with involvement in “Me and My Motherland,” a film tribute to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, jointly directed by seven of the country’s top directors.
It was followed by the announcement of drama serials about a wartime university famous for producing prominent intellectuals, ethnic unity between Mongolians and Han Communists, and the efficacy of China’s court system and rule of law, among others.
“The whole industry’s growth has slowed down and is facing many issues and challenges. Many friends from the industry have expressed their worries and anxieties,” Tencent Pictures CEO Edward Cheng said. “I told them we need to have faith. My answer is to stay hopeful.”
He said he remains optimistic because nowadays, films with a good reputation and word of mouth all have a chance of doing well at the box office, and because the market, with more than 60,000 screens, is enormous.
Since last year, the company has also become involved in film distribution. Cheng spoke at length of Chinese cinema’s global ambitions. “Film is a very important vessel to help Chinese culture to go out into the world,” he said. “In the future, we will feature more films with Chinese cultural content.”