All Movie Theaters in China Must Now Screen Propaganda Films at Least Twice a Week

A new report announced that Chinese movie theaters are being ordered to show propaganda movies, per a new order by authorities in the country. This is significant for several reasons, not the least of which being that China is now right there with the U.S. as one of the biggest moviegoing markets in the world. China even overtook the U.S. at the box office in 2020. But now, as moviegoing has returned to normal, Chinese officials are using the popularity of theaters to showcase propaganda.

According to a new report, movie theaters included in the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas must program “outstanding films” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party. The programming was scheduled to begin on April 1. The movies are said to be “closely focused on the themes of loving the party, loving the nation and loving socialism.” They also “sing the praises of … and eulogize the Party, the motherland, its people and its heroes.” This is one of several recent orders handed down by the country’s National Film Administration and Propaganda Department to China’s movie and entertainment industries.

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Not only do theaters included in the NAAC, roughly 5,000 across the country, have to schedule at least two of these screenings per week, but they must “attach great importance [to the screenings], execute them in earnestness… painstakingly organize them and ensure tangible results.” The venues must make sure that “not only that these films are programmed but that their screenings are well-attended.” So local officials are asking quite a bit from these theaters.

Officials have also released a list of movies that are to be screened in China as part of the program. They included Fighting North and South (1952) Railway Guerrilla (1956) Battle on Shangganling Mountain (1956) The Red Detachment of Women (1960) Red Sun (1963) Zhang Ga the Soldier Boy (1963) Heroic Sons and Daughters (1964) The Nanchang Uprising (1981) Hundred Regiments Offensive (2015) Battle of Xiangjiang River (2016) The Sacrifice (2020) and Landmine Warfare (2021). Theaters are asked to, first and foremost, promote the Xi Jinping Thought ideology.

National Film Administration director and leading Propaganda Department official Wang Xiaohui also laid out more guidelines for venues recently. Large exhibitions and theatrical performances detailing the “great achievements and valuable experience” of the Party are required to be scheduled. Members of the party and officials are required to be invited. A batch of “literary and artistic works of great ideological and artistic standing” are also required to be created for the same purpose. Movies, it is said, will play a large part in the “mass propaganda and education” movement.

How this will affect general moviegoing and further releases from other countries remains to be seen. Godzilla vs. Kong recently had a huge showing in China, earning more than $70 million during its opening frame. Hollywood studios are banking on releasing blockbusters, many of which have already been delayed multiple times, in the country to finally see some return on investment. This news comes to us via Variety.

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