Mainland Chinese period drama The Wolf <狼殿下> suddenly dropped last week – all 49 episodes for free – to the shock of fans. The act raised eyebrows, as the main cast, including Darren Wang (王大陸), Li Qin (李沁), and Xiao Zhan (肖战), are all relatively popular idol actors. While every aspect of the drama, from the plot to the theme and cast, is largely an idol drama targeting the mainstream audience, it would have fared better if it was not delayed and released three years ago – at the height of Darren’s popularity. Currently, Xiao Zhan is the one holding up the drama because of his high commercial value.
Releasing the entire series on Tencent without notice after three long years of complications created some noise, but Xiao Zhan is taking most of the credit for the drama’s reception. While the stars’ loyal fans are showing their support for the series, Xiao Zhan’s fans are the ones leading discussion topics and generating major publicity for the drama. It’s believed that the drama would’ve failed without his participation, as the delay inevitably caused significant negative impacts.
With the costumes and computer effects in The Wolf on the same level as three years ago, viewers could feel a disparity since knowledge and technology have advanced so rapidly since then. On top of that, the two leads Darren and Li Qin do not share the same popularity as Xiao Zhan. Darren is no longer at his peak as he was years ago, and Li Qin is not an actress who can guarantee strong ratings even though she has participated in big-budget dramas, such as Joy of Life <庆余年> and The Song of Glory <锦绣南歌>.
Despite having Xiao Zhan as the cash cow in this drama, Tencent still chose to release all the episodes instead of implementing the usual money-making strategy of allowing a few episodes for free and then charging for the rest. While Xiao Zhan’s fans would’ve happily paid to support him, Tencent likely took this route because they took into account the actor’s negative controversy. Prioritizing business and profits, the company probably calculated the risks of his unstable popularity levels and determined that it is better off releasing the entire drama to salvage their investments at least.
On top of that, Xiao Zhan is the second lead and not the main, so his fans might’ve possibly not been keeping tabs on the drama. However, those who only looked at the promotional stills would think he is playing the main lead. But it has only been four days since The Wolf‘s release, and its performance is still unknown. If it does explode in popularity, will Tencent regret not promoting their drama?
This article is written by Minna for JayneStars.com.