Awfully Successful: Is This China's Worst Blockbuster Ever?
For movie makers worldwide struggling to discover the formula for success in China's lucrative film market, one domestically made spy thriller appears to have stumbled its way into a winning strategy: just be ridiculously bad.
'Switch, ' the story of a top Chinese secret agent battling multinational mobsters to recover a precious painting, has only been in theaters for a little over a week and is already considered by some to be one of the worst Chinese blockbusters to ever lurch its way across the silver screen.
Yet it has continued to pull in movie-goers, beating out Paramount's 'Star Trek: Into Darkness' to sit atop the Chinese box office a result that has left more than a few in the industry scratching their heads.
但这部影片却依然吸引着源源不断的观众前来观看，它还击败了派拉蒙影片公司(Paramount)出品的《星际迷航：暗黑无界》(Star Trek: Into Darkness)一片，成为同档期影片中的票房冠军，这一结果令电影业内的相当一部分人感到不可思议。
Reportedly filmed at a cost of 160 million yuan ($26 million), 'Switch' was among the most hotly anticipated films of the summer. It boasts a star-studded cast headlined by A-listers Andy Lau and Lin Chi-ling, and counts state-owned companies China Movie Channel and China Film Group among its producers. It also features 3D special effects overseen by Chuck Comisky, famous for his work on 'Avatar, ' and was shot in luxurious locations around the globe, including the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.
《天机：富春山居图》的拍摄成本据报道为人民币1.6亿元，它曾是今年夏天最受观众期待的影片之一。该片的演员阵容可谓众星云集，影坛大腕刘德华和林志玲领衔出演，影片的制作方中包括中国电影频道和中国电影集团等国有单位。这还是一部3D影片，由恰克•科米斯奇(Chuck Comisky)担任视觉效果总监，他因在电影《阿凡达》(Avatar)一片中的工作而闻名。《天机：富春山居图》的拍摄地点包括世界各地的多处奢华场所，如迪拜的阿拉伯塔(Burj Al Arab)酒店。
The hype helped it pull in 46 million yuan ($7.8 million) on its opening day, the third-highest opening-day total in history for a local film, according to media research firm Entgroup.
But disappointment in everything from the film's plot to its casting and editing has also earned it some of the lowest scores in the history of online viewer ratings: On Mtime.com and Douban.com, China's two leading film review websites, 'Switch' had scored user ratings of 2.3 and 2.9 respectively by late Wednesday.
Mtime describes any film with a rating below 3.0 as 'incredibly bad, simply a waste of time.' On a list of the worst-rated Chinese films of all time compiled by Mtime on a request from China Real Time (in Chinese), 'Switch' finishes at No. 8, behind a handful of low-budget films so obscure that only one received more than a thousand ratings (versus nearly 20, 000 for 'Switch').
'Cherish your life and keep away from this film, ' read one comment on Mtime. 'Why aren't we allowed to give scores below zero here?' asked a Douban user.
Some of the filmmaking decisions in “Switch” are indeed confusing. At the end of one action sequence, the film briefly and for no apparent reason cuts away to show a leather-clad Japanese mobster and his female subordinate (played by Ms. Lin) acting out a sadomasochistic fantasy. Later on, Ms. Lin’s character dies in a shower of blood only to appear a short while later fighting on the side of the Chinese hero, her miraculous resurrection left unexplained.
“Not all films with high earnings have positive reviews, ” said Yue Yang, director of TV& Film department of China Film Channel, which pre-bought the online and TV rights to “Switch.” “Different audiences have different tastes and needs. Some prefer art films while others prefer films with grand visual impact.”
What has most surprised industry watchers is the fact that the film has continued to make money even after its first weekend. It earned 236 million yuan ($38.3 million) in its first week and had taken in a total of 271 million yuan as of Tuesday, according to Ent Group .
“Switch” isn’t the first Chinese blockbuster to win at the box office despite a flood of criticism ─ though even “The Promise, ” a financially successful but widely reviled 2005 period drama by leading director Chen Kaige, enjoys ratings above 4.0 on both Douban and Mtime.
Industry figures say the terrible reviews, amplified by social media, are driving a significant portion of the interest in “Switch” a sign that Chinese movie goers have started to embrace the so-bad-it’s-good aesthetic behind so many Hollywood cult classics.
“After reading so many sharp and funny comments about how terrible this film is, I cannot wait to go to the cinema and see how bad it really is, ” one Weibo user wrote, in a sentiment repeated widely online.
“Weibo enables everyone to join in on blasting the film and turns it into a public carnival.” said Zhao Pengxiao, a film director who teaches in the Beijing Film Academy. “Many people go to watch the film simply to join the fun and avoid being regarded as out of fashion.”
Some analysts say “Switch” is benefitting from rising demand in the world’s second-largest movie market for blockbusters. It also helps, they say, that the movie was released at a time when “Star Trek” was the only major Hollywood film playing.
Local media reports say China’s film regulator pulled DreamWorks Animation’s high-grossing “The Croods” from theaters one week before the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday two weeks early than scheduled. The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which has ultimate say over film release schedules, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
中国媒体报道说，中国的电影监管部门让美国梦工厂动画公司(DreamWorks Animation)的高票房影片《疯狂原始人》(The Croods)在中国为期三天的端午节假期开始前一周停映，比原有安排提前了两周。国家新闻出版广播电影电视总局对于电影档期的安排有最终决定权，该局没有立即回复记者的置评请求。 【已有很多网友发表了看法，点击参与讨论】【对英语不懂，点击提问】【英语论坛】【返回首页】