Director Ann Hui’s (許鞍華) latest film The Golden Era <黃金時代>, starring Tang Wei (湯唯), has been performing poorly at Mainland China’s box office. The historical film about legendary female writer Xiao Hong (蕭紅) opened in theaters on October 1, China’s National Day, and took seven full days to gross 36 million RMB.
The unconventional biopic, set in the 1930s, follows the turbulent life of Xiao Hong. The film features over 30 major stars and is three hours long. It uses an avant-garde approach to its filming style, which includes characters talking to the camera.
Prior to its release, investors estimated that The Golden Era, produced at 70 million RMB, would gross at least 200 million RMB during its theatrical run. Ann Hui’s previous film, the Hong Kong drama film A Simple Life <桃姐>, had grossed over 70 million RMB in mainland China, and also won many accolades at film awards.
Mr. G, an insider who works with a distribution company in China, said many of his colleagues did not expect The Golden Era to do well in the box office. “No one thought it would gross past 100 million RMB. Some said it probably wouldn’t even gross 50 million RMB.”
The reason behind The Golden Era’s box office failure may be attributed to its boring storyline and the lack of commercial appeal. “It’s really a challenge for the audience. If the movie was a theatrical production, it would be easier to accept. But it’s a film and it’s three hours long. There are too many cast members. Xiao Hong herself is also not well-known among people today. Why would people go watch a three-hour film about her?”
Another factor to The Golden Era’s failure may be because of its unappealing promotion to local audiences. The Golden Era was promoted at international film festivals such as the Venice Film Festival and will be featured at the Busan International Film Festival, but domestic promotions were lacking.
As the film was released on China National Day, October 1, moviegoers likely preferred to watch lighthearted comedies or action-packed blockbusters rather than heavy dramas like The Golden Era.
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.