[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ot content with global domination and first-class spare ribs, China’s cinematic star is shining more brightly, with its movie market now officially the second-biggest in the world.
The news coincided with the announcement that Django Unchained will, next month, become the first Quentin Tarantino picture to be released in the People’s Republic. With the film containing levels of violence typical of the Pulp Fiction director, it is something that would have been unthinkable in the past, so what exactly is going down in Chinatown, I hear you ask.
China has been the buzz-word in western cinema’s various markets for some time now, contributing significantly to its growth. Last year came a slight relaxation in the quota laws concerning the number of foreign films that can be released into the Chinese market each year. Traditionally it was always a maximum of 20, but in 2012 a proposal of 34 was accepted. With this seems to have come a more liberal attitude in terms of subject matter and, with Django Unchained set to be cut by a mere two minutes, violence doesn’t seem to be as big a concern as it once was.
All of this has seen a 36% increase in last year’s box-office takings, which came to a cool $2.7bn, leaving Japan’s $2.4bn in third place in the pecking order. Of course, being the most populous nation on the planet helps, but China hasn’t sat back. Even before quota laws were changed, a greater acceptance of western cinema was in evidence. Plus, with around ten screens a day being built, it would seem that the 1.3bn or so Chinese citizens have a real passion for the movies – a true cinematic superpower, you might say.
But should all this really come as a big surprise? Chinese cinema has been unfolding in front of our very eyes for years. The kung-fu exploits of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan have enthralled generations, whilst from the director’s chair, the likes of John Woo have also shown the true depth of oriental talent. The recent ‘Asianisation’ of Hollywood has proved that China is making great strides and is more than ready to take Tinseltown’s baton.