It’s not the latest Bond movie No Time To Die, or Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that is the biggest film in the world at the moment.

The film is propaganda from China and centers on the tale of Chinese soldiers who defeated American troops despite all odds.

In just two weeks since its release, The Battle at Lake Changjin has made over $633m (£463m) at the box office. This is more than Shang-Chi’s $402m global earnings, which it achieved in only half of the time.

This film is expected to be China’s most-grossing ever.

Covid was a pandemic inflicted film sector and its success is a good sign. Multiple times, cinemas had to close or reopen due to Covid.

Even better is the news for state officials, who experts claim have developed a method of appealing to mass audiences with propaganda.

Hollywood, however, may not see the film as a success if it attempts to enter China, which is the largest film market worldwide.

The Battle At Lake Changjin was commissioned by China. It is one of many nationalist movies that have been huge commercial successes in China over the past few years.

In 2017, Wolf Warrior 2, about a Chinese soldier saving hundreds of people from baddies in an African warzone, raked in a record 1.6bn yuan ($238m; £181m) in just one week.

Lake Changjin shows a bloody battle in freezing conditions that the Chinese claim marked a turning point of the Korean War, also known as “War to Resist US Aggression and Help Korea”

In order to win the crucial battle against American forces, thousands of Chinese soldiers perished at the lake.

“I am so touched by the sacrifices of soldiers. They won despite the extreme weather conditions. Douban reviews website posted, “I feel so proud.”

The film is popular because of rising tensions between Washington DC and Beijing.

It is clearly related to ongoing tensions between the US and it has been promoted in that manner – sometimes indirect but still very clearly,” stated Dr Stanley Rosen, University of Southern California political science professor.

The co-ordinated effort of the film studios to distribute films is another reason for its success.

Battle At Lake Changjin currently has very little competition from other theatres. Major Hollywood blockbusters No Time To Die (and Dune) will be opening in China only at the end Oktober, even though they are already shown elsewhere.

The timing of this film is also very good – it opened during China’s National Day holiday, which began on October 1, and coincides with the 100th anniversary celebrations for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Rosen said, “It’s almost like a patriotic obligation to go see that film.”

These propaganda films are frequently mandatory viewing for CCP personnel, according to Dr Florian Schneider (director of the Netherlands’ Leiden Asia Centre).

He told BBC that work units often organize collective viewings and, with more than 95 million card-holding people, this promises to boost box office,” he said.

Online reviews have been overwhelmingly positive about the movie so far. However, some observers suggested that this may not necessarily be true.

One could end up in prison for criticizing others.

Luo Changping, a former journalist was arrested last week for “insulting remarks” made on social media regarding the Chinese soldiers depicted in the film.

Sanya police said that the suspect was under arrest on charges of “infringing national martyrs’ reputation and honor” and were currently investigating the matter.

“Youngsters [in China]”Those with strong nationalist sentiments have adisproportionate voice online,” said Dr Jonathan Hassid from Iowa State University. He spoke to the BBC earlier.

“In Part, this voice amplifies because legitimate criticism of state is becoming increasingly unacceptable.”

Fans of the movie still enjoy it’s blockbuster elements, which put it in line with major mainstream films.

The production value and special effects of the film are excellent, with a budget estimated at $200 million. Rosen said that the three directors were all excellent storytellers, and are well-known in China.

Tsui Hartk, Chen Kaige and Dante Lam were all well-known film-makers.

Tsui’s films feature special effects, martial arts and Lam’s action sequences that use giant explosives. Chen is known for his sensitive portrayals Chinese life.

We all know that this film is patriotic, but it made me cry when I saw it. “It felt very authentic,” wrote one user on Weibo’s microblogging platform.

China’s success in film production is likely to add to the problems foreign companies like Hollywood are already facing, as they try to conquer China’s lucrative market.

China is allowed to show 34 films each year, although it does have a quota.

You can work around this by coproducing a Hollywood film with Chinese companies. It will not count towards your quota.

Last year’s report revealed that Hollywood chiefs were also censoring movies to appeal to the Chinese market. Casting, content and dialogue are increasingly tailored to satisfy Beijing censors.

Even then, it is not a guarantee that the box office will be successful. Some co-productions even fail to make the cut.

The Great Wall, an action-fantasy movie directed by Zhang Yimou in China and starring Matt Damon was widely criticized for the “white saviour” narrative.

Experts assured the BBC that, despite all these obstacles, foreign film-makers won’t be stopping anytime soon.

According to them, China and Hollywood are dependent on each other.

China is determined to continue being the No. China wants to be the No.1 film market after Covid. However, it needs Hollywood blockbusters, especially those playing on Imax screens.

Hollywood is becoming less relevant as Chinese film productions improve. However, Hollywood still tells universal stories, which China cannot or will not tell.


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