Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang
The Summer vacation is the most anticipated holiday for Chinese kids and teenagers. Every July and August, as the students finish their stressful studies and tests, they’re ready to celebrate and relax, and watching movies is one of their main entertainment choices, giving rise to popular summer movies.
Back in the 1970s, summer movies were already a phenomenon when Spielberg’s Jaws debuted. As groups of students spent more and more time at the movies, the market grew even more. In the summer of 2009, movies in China had their first official summer season. The most representative films were Empire of Silver and Overheard. The former was based in the Qing Dynasty. The story combined a battle in the business world with romance, while also exploring the competition between two classical schools of thought in China, the Legalists and the Confucianists. The second movie expertly portrayed human nature, depicting how three police officers were tempted to eavesdrop on financial transactions, tried to destroy evidence, and ultimately paying the price for their crime. The 2009 summer season made 1.65 billion yuan in 13 weeks, a box office record for China. Since then, the summer season became the holiday movie season’s biggest competitor.
Compared to comedies which are only entertainment, summer movies seem to make more of an effort in quality and production, and are becoming known for their prolific output and excellent offerings.
In 2015, the action movie Wolf Warrior made its protagonist a hero in China, setting a box office record. In 2017, Wolf Warrior 2 conquered the box office again.
Special forces soldier Leng Feng, discharged from the military,was caught up in a military coup in an African country. Because of political alliances, the Chinese military couldn’t evacuate Chinese civilians from the region. Leng Feng, who could have left safely, returned to the embattled region to rescue Chinese civilians and refugees.
The movie made 1.27 hundred million dollars on its opening weekend, becoming the global box office leader. As of August 16th, Wolf Warrior 2’s overseas box office reached 1.11 million dollars. The movie had already surpassed Spider-Man: The Homecoming to be included in the list of global top 100 movies. This is the first time an Asian movie had made the worldwide list and overcame Hollywood movies’ monopoly of the rankings.
If Wolf Warrior 2 is a sign that in 2017, Chinese summer movies are now global, the movie Wu Kong is the forerunner of Eastern fantasy films in mainland China.
Wu Kong, adapted from a novel of the same name by online author Jin Hezai, uses the classical novel, Journey to the West, to explore Monkey King Wu Kong’s entanglements with various gods, demons, and a romance with the fairy maiden A Zi. Online fans have called the movie the prequel to the classical novel. Within 20 hours of the movie’s debut, the box office reached more than one hundred million yuan, with the final box office at 6.94 hundred million yuan.
Back in 2013, suspense writer Lei Mi wrote a novel called Criminal Mind, which was translated and published overseas（Profiler）, and has continued to enjoy good sales. The book was also adapted into an online drama with great ratings.
The movie adaptation of Criminal Mind is now part of the summer 2017 lineup. Opening on August 11th, the movie earned more than 200 million yuan at the box office in just five days, successfully creating a record for suspense movies in China, with even more earning potential to come.
As the audience becomes more sophisticated in their movie-watching taste, appreciation for summer movies becomes more leisurely and the movies become more well-made, summer movies in the future would bring us even more amazing entertainment.