Chinese tune in for big night at Oscars
Updated: 2013-02-25 13:11
By Liu Yuhan in New York (China Daily)
Although no Chinese-connected movies were nominated for this year's Academy Awards, film lovers in China were awaiting the 85th edition of the glitzy Hollywood gala with enthusiasm.
An estimated 1.2 billion people around the world watched or will watch the spectacle, over the Internet or live or tape-delayed television. Sunday night's broadcast from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles brought to a close weeks of hype over the 12 nominations for director Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, 11 for Ang Lee's Life of Pi and competition among stars and their projects.
Chinese fans took to online forums to stream Oscar's big night (or Monday morning in China), discuss the nominees and dig for any China-related tidbits from the star-studded ceremony.
M1905.com, the website of China Television Channel 6, claimed it alone among Chinese networks had live video of stars' arrivals on the red carpet and the awards ceremony.
Although the Chinese box office grew more than 30 percent last year to 17 billion yuan ($2.7 billion), trailing only the US, Chinese movies still have a long way to go in gaining recognition in other markets.
Asked by M1905.com to comment on why there has been no Oscar nominee from China in 10 years, Hawk Koch, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said China's industry needs to work harder.
Websites in China that streamed the Academy Awards were expecting an uptick in page views, including Sina, Tencent, Douban and others. Before the ceremony, Douban, which had about 53 million registered users as of 2011, started a poll among users to vote for their own Oscars.
"It would be exciting to see Life of Pi win, yet the most exciting thing is, it's such a big year with too many movies that are as good!" said a user with the handle Oathkeeper who took part in the poll.
Another user on the site expected that "the most thrilling moment for me" would be watching British singer Adele perform the Oscar-nominated theme song from the James Bond movie Skyfall.
Some die-hard movie fans who are studying in the United States said they looked forward to watching the awards ceremony live on television.
"My love for American movies started years ago, before I came to the US. I watched the tape-delayed broadcast on CCTV's film channel, but it felt like a long wait," said Nick Wan, a second-year graduate student in higher-education administration at Boston College.
"My office is filled with joy these days - 12 of us bet on different films to see who will win," he said. Life of Pi is my favorite movie of the year."
Wan praised the 3-D adventure drama's "interesting plot" and said it was "beautifully shot, with superb visual effects".
"I feel proud to see a director of Chinese descent be nominated at this year's Oscars," he said referring to the Taiwan-born Lee.
Another China-related highlight was Fan Bingbing's attendance at the ceremony.
The 31-year-old Chinese actress walked the red carpet at the invitation of Hollywood producer Bill Mechanic, a former executive with Walt Disney Studios and Fox Filmed Entertainment. He has said he thinks Fan, in addition to her beauty, has the potential to be an influential, bankable star. Mechanic plans to collaborate with the actress on two films, and he hopes to introduce Fan to more people in the US movie industry.
Fan, asked if conquering Hollywood is in her plans, has said she would "go with the flow". Media reports said she was expecting Sunday night at the Oscars to be an exciting experience that could produce a breakthrough for her career.
Claus Mueller, New York correspondent for Film Festival Today, a website that covers the movie industry, said Fan stands to benefit from the exposure, however brief.
"The tremendous audiences at the Oscars will help the Chinese actress gain worldwide recognition, as the platform was also designed for networking in the industry," he said.
There have been rumors that Fan will be in the cast of Iron Man 3, with Chinese actor Wang Xueqi confirmed for the role of Dr Wu. The action sequel, which has Chinese production input and is scheduled for US release on May 3, is also said to include numerous cast members.
US movies generate more profits internationally than they do at home. In 2011, Hollywood's ticket sales soared to more than $32 billion, with about 69 percent from box offices around the world.
Chinese fans are expected to see more foreign-made movies, including from the US, in coming years. China, the world's third-biggest producer of movies, recently increased its quota for revenue-sharing imports of foreign films to 34 a year from 20.