(Yicai Global) Dec. 29 – The issue of whether negative online movie reviews can hurt the movie industry has become a hot topic on Chinese social media platforms after state-run People's Daily posted a commentary on its APP, arguing malicious online movie reviews could severely harm the Chinese film industry.
People's Daily published an article on its APP yesterday morning regarding the online ratings of three newly-released domestic films – The Great Wall, See You Tomorrow and Railroad Tigers. It called the reviews on China's popular movie review sites, Douban and Maoyan, as "surprising." As a result of such low ratings, most audiences express disappointment in domestic films released for the New Year box office takings and even refuse to watch them, it claimed.
American actor Matt Damon stars in The Great Wall by famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou. With a total investment of USD150 million, it is China's most expensive film to date. Legendary Pictures, Universal Pictures, China Film Group Corporation, China's biggest film company, and the Chinese Internet film company, Le Vision Pictures, a subsidiary of LeEcho, are also involved in the investment and distribution of the film.
It has received overwhelmingly negative reviews online since its release in early December. Some critics commented on the social media that the film is "not in the least bit imaginative" and that "Zhang Yimou is dead." The film has grossed CNY870 million (USD125 million) at the box office to date.
Railroad Tigers is another film targeting New Year audiences. Veteran actor Jackie Chan plays the lead role in it. Since its release on December 23, it has made CNY214 million in the box office just over the Christmas weekend. Scoring the lowest ratings on Douban is See You Tomorrow directed by famous Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, starring Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Its box office takings have exceeded CNY200 million since its release.Ironically, People's Daily's commentary didn't help stop the slump in ratings of all three movies as netizens rushed to Douban to give one star –the lowest rate, to the above-mentioned movies. One online review even said,"One star for People's Daily."
People's Daily had to post another commentary on one of its official WeChat accounts later in the day, reversing its earlier suggestion about negative online reviews of box office films. Headlined "Chinese Movies Should Have Tolerance for One Star," People's Daily took a different tone this time. When one reader raised questions about the conflicting attitudes by the paper, its WeChat account editor replied,"Take this version as the standard."
According to registration information, People's Daily APP is run by People.Cn Co. [SHA:603000], a subsidiary of People's Daily. An insider told Yicai Global that the APP and People's Daily have different sets of editorial teams.
Douban CEO Yang Bo also posted a reply on his personal WeChat account Wednesday night, denying some media reports that China's movie industry regulator held a meeting with Douban. He thanked its users "for all their support."
After Yang Bo's reply, Douban published its 2016's best Chinese movies list, with "Mr. Donkey" ranked number one, while it placed The Great Wall and See You Tomorrow on the hottest movies in December list.