Young adulthood films growing in popularity

Updated: 2013-05-27 06:50


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BEIJING -- Movies centering on early adulthood have become hits in theaters across China, outearning even Hollywood blockbusters.

"American Dreams in China," a drama that tells the story of three young entrepreneurs, grossed over 100 million yuan ($32.6 million dollars) in the first three days since its debut on May 17, knocking "Iron Man 3" off the top of the box office charts, according to figures published by China Film News on Tuesday.

The film, a production by Hong Kong director Peter Chan, raked in 200million yuan in its opening week, tracking the success achieved by "So Young," a low-budget romantic drama set on a college campus. It has taken in 689 million yuan since its debut on April 26.

The film's earnings nearly matched those of "Iron Man 3," which took in 694 million yuan after nearly three weeks, as well as left Tom Cruise's science-fiction film "Oblivion" and "The Croods," a cartoon set in the Stone Age, far behind.

"The stories told in movies like 'So Young' and 'American Dreams in China' resonate with the lives of young moviegoers and have struck a chord with them," said Rao Shuguang, deputy director of Beijing-based China Film Art Research Center, adding these are not the elements that Hollywood films could bring about.

The popularity of early adulthood movies can be traced back to 2010, when a short film called "Old Boys" became a hit on the Internet. The film revolves around the musical dreams of two male fans of Michael Jackson.

"You Are the Apple of My Eye," a Taiwanese romance screened on the Chinese mainland in January last year, also centers around early adulthood.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, said young people, who comprise the majority of China's moviegoers, are drawn to the films both by their curiosity and their interest in nostalgia.

"For those in their 30s or 40s, they want to look back on their years of endeavor, while younger people are keen to see how their elders lived at their age," Zhang said.

A sense of rebellion and humor are common features of the films and have also helped them draw bigger audiences.

"Young people are under a lot of pressure from society and the job market these days," said Rao. "Watching these early adulthood-focused movies helps them vent."

Rao said the popularity of the films may also help Chinese filmmakers compete with their Hollywood counterparts.

Foreign films are often at the top of China's box office charts. In 2012, ticket sales for imported movies accounted for 51.54 percent of gross ticket revenues, even though only 50 imported films were shown that year, compared to 893 domestic films.

"Tiny Times," a film that depicts the lives of female university students, is expected to maintain the momentum that "So Young" has generated. The film is scheduled to debut on June 27.