Taiwanese drama fails at box office


Movie Poster  |  Touch of the Light 



Taiwanese drama fails at box office


By Yang Hui, Wang Xiaopeng and Chen Chunyuan

A Taiwanese drama that sparkled at a couple of film festivals found its box office sales frustrating in the Chinese mainland.

After winning prizes, including the “Best New Director” at the 49th Golden Horse Awards and the Audience Award at Busan, Rong-ji Chang’s “Touch of the Light” raked in only 5.41 million yuan (about 880,000 U.S. dollars) as of June 16 since its mainland debut more than a week ago.

With a lackluster performance, the film ranked 10th in the box office charts in the week ending on Sunday of June 23.

This was in contrast to the favorable reviews surrounding the film.

The movie has attracted nearly 17,900 votes, and was rated 8.3 out of 10 as of Friday at douban.com, a major entertainment website in China, making it one of the best reviewed films among Chinese moviegoers.

The film follows the true story of Huang Yu-siang, a Taiwanese piano prodigy who was born blind and displayed a musical talent. He leaves home to attend university and pursue a musical education. There he meets Jie (Sandrine Pinna), a drinks vendor who dreams of being a dancer.

Meanwhile, unfavorably reviewed movies are making lots of money. “Switch,” a domestic action-adventure starring Hong Kong actor Andy Lau and Taiwanese model and actress Lin Chi-ling, has been leading the mainland’s box office.

The film, which revolves around attempts to protect an ancient scroll, raked in 260 million yuan in the eight days since its debut on June 9, according to China Film News.

“Switch” was rated 2.3 out against 10 at major entertainment website mtime.com and 2.9 at website douban.com, with most reviews describing it as “lousy.”

“Bring Happiness Home” is another movie that was not favored among filmgoers back in January but raked in 153.67 million yuan.

As an uplifting tale of determination, love, friendship and self-belief, “Touch of the Light” is not the only movie that has won moviegoers’ acclaim but performed badly at box office.

Last year, Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng’s wartime blockbuster “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” which tells the story of a battle waged by the island’s aboriginal Seediq people against the Japanese forces that ruled Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, disappointed at the box office even though it gained 8.7 out of 10 at douban.com.

Rao Shuguang, deputy director of the Beijing-based China Film Art Research Center, said inadequate screening arrangements and poor publicity strategies are the reasons for frustrating ticket sales.

Among the 63 movies screened in the Beijing Wanda cinema Thursday, “Switch” was shown 13 times while “Touch of the Light” was played twice.

In Xidan cinema, “Switch” was played on 12 occassions on the same day, while the “Touch of the Light” had already been cut.

Rao added that moviegoers’ judgement and taste are also to blame.

“It’s understandable for cinemas to arrange the screenings in accordance with the taste of viewers, but many viewers’ aesthetic taste needs to be reconsidered,” Rao added.

“It’s not a good thing for Chinese filmmakers if moviegoers choose to watch low grade films,” said Rao, adding that it will be an obstacle to improve the quality of domestic films.

Zhang Huijun, president of the Beijing Film Academy, said more categories of movies need to be screened to diversify moviegoers’ tastes.

Zhang added that more screens should be set up to enable people greater access to cinemas.





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