China (mainland), NEWS — 04/08/2011 10:26 PM

China’s total investment in documentary films last year reached 500 million yuan ($76.3 million)

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Two recent articles published in the chinese press speak about the economy of documentary in China and the financial situation of this industry.

China’s doc films failed to cover cost in 2010 (7/04/2011)
 
New statistics released Wednesday by China’s Documentary Film Development Research Report, issued by the Documentary Center of Beijing Normal University, revealed that China’s total investment in documentary films last year reached 500 million yuan ($76.3 million).

China shot 16 documentary films last year, 13 of which were screened in cinemas. Among the 13, The Road to Revival, A Sage of the Sea and The Bund topped the box-office receipts list with 2 million yuan ($0.31 million), 600,000 yuan ($91,560) and 500,000 yuan ($76,300) respectively. Despite the overall growth of the documentary film sector, none of China’s documentary films recovered its cost through box-office income.

the-bund

On the other hand, the total box-office receipts of China’s feature films last year roared to over 10 billion yuan ($1.53 billion) and that of some top-flight directors, such as Jiang Wen and Feng Xiaogang, jumped to 600 million yuan ($91.56 million).

The report said that there were 98 TV documentary programs aired last year, covering 13,219 hours in all. Currently, advertisements are still the biggest profit source for most channels.

In 2010, the American film Jackass 3D ranked top among the documentaries presented in North American theaters with $117 million in revenue. French documentary Océans ranked second with $19.44 million. In terms of documentary films broadcast on TV, the total revenue of America’s Discovery Channel amounted to $3.7 billion, an increase of 9 percent over last year.

Global Times

Low box offices sales plagued Chinese documentaries in 2010: report (1/04/2011)
 

While last year’s Chinese-produced feature films experienced unprecedented boom, not a single homegrown documentary earned back its costs through theatrical release in 2010, a recent report has found.

The total cost of the 16 Chinese documentaries made last year was about 500 million yuan (about 76 million U.S. dollars), while overall earnings reached 700 million yuan, figures from the report show.

The Study Report Regarding the Development of Chinese Documentaries in 2010 was jointly published on Wednesday by the documentary center of the Beijing Normal University and the “Modern Communication,” a Chinese-language bimonthly magazine run by the Beijing-based Communication University of China.

Of the 16 documentary features, 13 were screened in mainstream theaters, but none earned back their costs through box office sales, said the report.

road-to-revival

. “Road to Revival,” a top-grossing patriotic documentary feature made for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the New China, earned two million yuan.

. Director Jia Zhangke’s “I Wish I Knew,” a documentary-fiction hybrid about the contemporary history of Shanghai, brought in 600,000 yuan domestically.

According to the report, inadequate market operations, lack of mainstream genres and renowned brands, and inconsistent industrial standards were among the main issues holding back the development of Chinese documentaries.

The report urged a stronger implementation of documentary-related policies, making strategic plans for the development of indigenous documentaries and encouraging private investment in order to foster works featuring both local and foreign influences.

Governments of many countries have been boosting production of indigenous documentaries via policy and financial support.

In October 2010, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) issued a set of guidelines to promote making and producing homegrown documentaries.

“Measures will be taken to promote outstanding Chinese documentary films in mainstream cinemas,” said the guidelines, without providing further details. According to the guidelines, TV stations at various levels should also allocate more time for airing documentaries and more policy support will be given to those setting up documentary channels.

Earlier this year, the State-run China Central Television (CCTV) launched a documentary channel to showcase Chinese history, culture and society. The documentary channel, the first of its kind in China to reach a global audience, broadcasts 24 hours per day in both English and Chinese.

cctv-doc-channel-conf-de-presse

Documentaries are a key part of the building of a country’s soft power and its cultural industry. We will create favorable environments for Chinese documentaries to embrace the market and international competition,” said Jin Delong, chief of the publicity and management department with the SARFT, in an interview with Xinhua.

People daily / Xinhua

Article on The Bund in China Daily

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