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Chinese Audiences: Evolution and Change of Media Consciousness

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Part of the International Series on Computer Entertainment and Media Technology book series (ISCEMT)


Mark Pesce in his work Hyperpeople and Charles Shiro Tashiro in his article Videophilia both concur with the idea that media and film change audiences (Pesce 2005; Tashiro 1991). Film distribution and exhibition are tightly linked to technology and these are thought to have a significant influence on the way audiences perceive films. In that sense, Mr. Arash Amel (Head Researcher for Screen Digest) at the PEVE conference on the future of DVD and Blu-ray in Paris on 16–18th April 2008 was claiming that ‘hardware and technology drive consumers’ behaviours’ (Amel 2008).

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  1. 1.

    This data was already presented at the Trinity College Dublin (TCD) 2010 Postgraduate Symposium in Ireland in April 2010 under the title Measuring The Impact of Globalization on Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong Audiences.

  2. 2.

    Questionnaires were translated in Chinese (simplified and traditional characters for Mainland and Cantonese respondents respectively).

  3. 3.

    Originally, these 20,000 screens were lower resolution than the 2 K HD compliant standard ordered through the provider Barko and were mainly designed to be installed in rural areas. 600 digital projectors of higher resolution at 1.3 k were also to be installed in smaller cities: Information gathered with Mr. Liu Chun, Government Official for SARFT (Chinese Film and Television Bureau), December 2009. In effect, 2 k and 4 k projectors were installed in urban areas with the increasing expansion of 3D cinema.

  4. 4.

    Officially 315 films were released from 745 produced in China in 2012. In reality, only 183 were effectively released in theatres, while the rest only had a certificate allowing them to be released but they were not formally released nationally:

  5. 5.

    Since 2016 and given the limited scope to reach the Mainland Chinese market, TVB has been developing a streaming box allowing viewers across Asia to watch their content.

  6. 6.

    Some informal activity of digitisation of VHS tapes into DVDs or non-physical formats combined with the planned obsolescence of the tapes have accelerated the disappearance of this medium.

  7. 7.

    As of October 2008, Patrick Tong (Head of the Hong Kong Video Association) referred to the penetration of Blu-ray Discs in Hong Kong as ‘weak’: the financial crisis and the rather high pricing of this product (over HK$400 per disc in 2008) were the main barrier to adoption of the new format. With no further developments, the format stagnated and receded.

  8. 8.

    Luc Marchand, European Head of KDG and Editor of DVD Intelligence, PEVE conference, April 2008.

  9. 9.

    As of 2008: Reference Prof. Lu Di, Peking University, March 2009.

  10. 10.

    Mr. Alan Friel, Attorney specialised in DRMs for Major studios in LA. Tom Sherak, former Executive Distribution Consultant for Paramount.

  11. 11.

    As part of this study, I chose to exclude marginal distribution channels such as airplane and hotel viewings. We also excluded the marginal personal use of 35 mm or 16 mm projectors used to screen films privately.

  12. 12.

    Mr. Tony Dillistone and Ms. Marjorie Daleo (former representatives of Enterprise Ireland in Los Angeles), both CEO of Media Mojos, a company supported by Universal studios and specialised in content distribution on new media platforms.

  13. 13.

    The idea of family background or connections and of the golden circle is reminiscent of the urban millennials; a situation which was less openly spoken about in the past but has come back to fore following the anti-corruption campaign of Xi Jinping and the complaints of the majority against nepotism and the unequal opportunities to increase wealth or to get decent employment. For some second wave urban Chinese millennials who do not come from the golden circle, achieving financial stability is a struggle due to high competition on the job market.

  14. 14.

    Mr. Wellington Fung, Hong Kong Film Development Council, December 2008.

  15. 15.

    In comparison, Youku was gathering 25% and 13% of these respective audiences’ attention.

  16. 16.

    Thirty four percent of the respondents who frequently watch TV alone also frequently watch DVD/VCDs on their own, whereas only 8% of the respondents who never watch TV alone frequently watch DVD/VCDs alone.

  17. 17.

    For instance, 69% of the respondents who frequently watch films on the Internet alone also frequently watch DVD/VCDs on their own, whereas only 18% of the respondents who never watch films on the Internet alone frequently watch DVD/VCDs alone.

  18. 18.

    Film origin: it is important in the current transnational context to define what the country of origin means. For instance, if we refer to Hong Kong, it means a film produced and financed in Hong Kong and screened in Cantonese with or without subtitles.

  19. 19.

    At the time the three largest viewing origins were in decreasing order Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Taiwan with 78%, 62%, and 49% film or TV series viewing frequencies, respectively. Korea scored lower at 37% viewing frequency, but has since increased significantly. Other Asian films featured much lower.

  20. 20.

    CEPA offers a prime position for Hong Kong to export films to the South of China without quotas and with more flexible rules in regard to the timing of the releases. Cantonese speaking population is estimated to 140 million people between Southern Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Zhuhai, and even Taiwan whose official language in Mandarin but has been a readily market for Hong Kong.

  21. 21.

    The lack of interest of the local Hong Kong population in the arts and lack of succession planning are two critical factors that may have contributed to the slow death of Hong Kong film productions. Several experts concurred on this idea: Prof. James Kenny (CUHK, October 2008), Tony Ngai (Salon Films, October 2008), Gordon Cheung (Celestial Pictures, March 2009), Bey Logan (Weinstein Company Hong Kong, October 2008), Tsui Hark (Distribution workshop, December 2008).

  22. 22.

    However, these official figures have been vehemently contradicted by industry professionals such as Peter Shiao, CEO of Orb Media who claim that the official figures are misleading and that the proportion of foreign films at the Chinese box office is closer to 80–90%. The enforcement of blackout dates for foreign films at strategic periods of the year such as summertime or Chinese New Year or the manipulation of box office ticketing is also claimed to give a protectionist advantage to local films (Shaffer 2015).

  23. 23.

    The quotas was actually exceeded in 2016 and reached 39 imported foreign films for the theatrical window. Spokespersons at SAPPRFT and China Film Group saved face by denying that quotas had been exceeded and justified the surplus as ‘cultural exchange projects’. This shows the ambiguous nature of Chinese regulations (Brzeski 2017).

  24. 24.

    This information was confirmed in a November 2017 interview at the AFM, Los Angeles by Mr. Sélim Oulmekki, International Affairs Executive for Hi-Show Entertainment since 2017.

  25. 25.

    Mr. Gao Feng, Cultural Attache for the Chinese Embassy in Dublin, Ireland, declared in a 2010 interview in Dublin that China has recently discovered that film is not only an educational or cultural medium but also a commercial product and a soft power tool. The Chinese Government is juggling with these multiple priorities.

  26. 26.

    Mr. Liu Chun, SARFT, December 2008.

  27. 27.

    Mr. Liu Chun, SARFT. Prof Lu Di, Peking University.

  28. 28.

    In an interview at Filmart in March 2009, Tony Ngai (Salon Films) and Gordon Cheung (Celestial Pictures) outlined problems of succession planning and an aversion to risk and trying new talent from the industry.


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Poujol, P. (2019). Chinese Audiences: Evolution and Change of Media Consciousness. In: Online Film Production in China Using Blockchain and Smart Contracts. International Series on Computer Entertainment and Media Technology. Springer, Cham.

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