I must confess I am a movie buff through and through. Since I came to America, the only entertainment I cannot live without is movies, either at home or at theaters. Now I understand why years ago some Americans in China told me what they missed most from their home country was watching movies.
On average, American theaters play at least two new movies weekly, often shown on Friday at theaters. I see why the first-weekend box office is a weather vane of a movie’s popularity. One of the best things about watching movies in America is the overall price of movie tickets, which is more reasonable than that in China, where a movie ticket can easily cost the equivalent of over US $15.
Hollywood movies are always well-received in China, especially among young people. Since the American domestic box-office revenues are shrinking, thanks to the online media and the option of watching movies on various electronic devices, more and more film producers place their hope in the overseas markets, including China. In the meantime, the growing number of Chinese middle class needs to be entertained. China has now overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest movie market.
I used to go to theaters in China, but of course not as often as I do now. Besides the fact that the movie tickets are expensive, new films don’t come out as quickly and frequently. However, the pirate market is a different story. Occasionally, pirate DVDs are available before the film is released in China.
Facing a similar fate to news media, imported movies in China have to get approval from censors before showing at the Chinese theaters. To protect Chinese films’ market share, Chinese authorities allow only 34 foreign films to be released in the country each year. But that amount is still larger than the number of imported movies from China released in the States.
Standing between two cultures, I wish Americans were able to watch more Chinese movies. Perhaps more cultural exchange would help reduce misunderstandings between the two nations.