Sony Exec: Chinese Moviegoers Are Tired of Superheroes

Sony Exec: Chinese Moviegoers Are Tired of Superheroes

“Thor: The Dark World” will test her theory this weekend

Sony executive Dede Nickerson offered a diagnosis on Tuesday for why some Chinese movies are outperforming American ones in China: too many superheroes.

Nickerson, head of production and strategic development for Sony in China, said the country's moviegoers are “a little bit tired of men in suits.”

“Chinese people want to see movies about what's happening in their society and their lives – what they can relate to,” Nickerson said, speaking at the Asia Society of Southern California's U.S.-China Film Summit.

Also read: How Can Hollywood Make More Money in China? Stop Complaining

She then pointed out that one of the highest-grossing Chinese language films of the year is “Lost in Thailand,” a comedy about two men who go looking for their boss in China.

That movie grossed almost $200 million with no robots, aliens or super powers.

Also read: The Chinese Are Coming to AFM, but Will Business Follow?

Jonah Greenberg, who runs CAA's office in Beijing, said on an earlier panel the one identifiable trend this year has been for “nostalgia films.” Several of the top-grossing movies in China this year are humanistic tales, such as the romantic comedy “Finding Mr. Right” and the drama “So Young.”

Plenty of film critics and fans agree that Hollywood's recent devotion to superheroes is excessive, but does the data support the claim?

Also read: 5 Reasons ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Will Blow the Original's Box Office Away

Both “Iron Man 3” and “Pacific Rim” grossed more than $100 million in China while “Man of Steel” topped $60 million. Superhero films have had a better go of it than science fiction movies, particularly those not based on preexisting intellectual property.

Of the year's American sci-fi films, only “Star Trek Into Darkness” has topped $40 million in China while both “Elysium” and “Oblivion” sit south of $30 million.

Whether it's men in suits or men in space, Nickerson's theory will get a good test this weekend when “Thor: The Dark World” opens in China on the same day it does in the United States.

  • jillkennedy

    Well yeah – they were raised on stories of the great proletarian revolution and personal stories about peasants living in caves. Hollywood movies are just too much. Eventually we all return to nostalgia (no matter how repression the nostalgia is). I think Hollywood is heading down the path of actually helping to fund Chinese propaganda in order to break into the market. The only answer in that case is for Hollywood to run away and leave China to the Chinese…

    http://mankabros.com/blogs/onmedea/2012/05/03/is-hollywood-funding-chinese-propaganda/

    • zooots

      i'm with the chinese. totally sick of superhero men in suits too. how many times do americans have to watch the same childish movie to get sick of it?

      • cltaylor

        I've very much enjoyed the Avengers’ series of films as well as X-Men. I can watch them almost endlessly and after just seeing Thor II I can barely wait for what is next. The upcoming X-Men film is going to be stellar.

        But what I really want is to see these 2013 Chinese/Asia produced films in their original language with English subs (if the U.S. would allow them to be distributed):

        “The Monkey King”
        “The story of a Buddhist monk's pilgrimage to India to collect religious texts.”
        Director: Pou-Soi Cheang
        Stars: Donnie Yen, Yun-Fat Chow, Monica Mok, Siu-Wong Fan
        “ They keep postponing the premiere of the most anticipated
        of ´em all. First in a trilogy! ” – Lefars

        “The Protector 2”
        Director: Prachya Pinkaew
        Stars: Tony Jaa, Marrese Crump, JeeJa Yanin, Petchtai Wongkamlao

        “Iron Monk”
        “Haunted by memories of his past that leave
        him unable to practice kung fu, an ex-Shaolin Monk lives quietly in
        London's Chinatown…”
        Director: Isaac Florentine
        Stars: Zara Phythian, Silvio Simac, Jason Ninh Cao, Mark Strange

        “Once Upon a Time in Shanghai”
        “A laborer moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich. But ends up using his kung fu skills to survive.”
        Director: Ching-Po Wong
        Stars: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Andy On, Philip Ng, Luxia Jiang

        “Dut Shu Sun Fun”
        Director: Clarence Fok Yiu-leung
        Stars: Donnie Yen, Tian Jing, Hanyu Zhang, Collin Chou

        Those are just this years outstanding films out of China, there are dozens more from the past 10 years that never reach our market, many of them don't even have sufficient IMDB write ups. I blame Hollywood.

      • Christopher Corvino

        We'll unless u plan on moving to china then learn to accept the fact that ur in the minority.

  • Tavo

    The Chinese can talk when they start producing something of quality. They have a long way to go…

    • cltaylor

      Clearly you've seen none of these this year:

      “The Monkey King”
      “The story of a Buddhist monk's pilgrimage to India to collect religious texts.”
      Director: Pou-Soi Cheang
      Stars: Donnie Yen, Yun-Fat Chow, Monica Mok, Siu-Wong Fan
      “ They keep postponing the premiere of the most anticipated
      of ´em all. First in a trilogy! ” – Lefars

      “The Protector 2”
      Director: Prachya Pinkaew
      Stars: Tony Jaa, Marrese Crump, JeeJa Yanin, Petchtai Wongkamlao

      “Iron Monk”
      “Haunted by memories of his past that leave
      him unable to practice kung fu, an ex-Shaolin Monk lives quietly in
      London's Chinatown…”
      Director: Isaac Florentine
      Stars: Zara Phythian, Silvio Simac, Jason Ninh Cao, Mark Strange

      “Once Upon a Time in Shanghai”
      “A laborer moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich. But ends up using his kung fu skills to survive.”
      Director: Ching-Po Wong
      Stars: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Andy On, Philip Ng, Luxia Jiang

      “Dut Shu Sun Fun”
      Director: Clarence Fok Yiu-leung
      Stars: Donnie Yen, Tian Jing, Hanyu Zhang, Collin Chou

  • cltaylor

    Maybe they are tired of how they are portrayed in Hollywood based hero films…. did that occur to anyone? Even in Ironman 3 there is a woman listed in the credits, a doctor, who does not appear in the film at all as far as I could tell and I saw it three times. What did they have to cut? Also, there are a half dozen Chinese films from 2013 that the U.S. need to see in original language with English Subs, but Hollywood won't let us. And out of all the Wolverine stories they could have used for the second film, why did they go with an asian mob style story,…. It's 2013 not 1939.

    In the United States, we would like to see these 2013 Epic films:

    “The Monkey King”
    “The story of a Buddhist monk's pilgrimage to India to collect religious texts.”
    Director: Pou-Soi Cheang
    Stars: Donnie Yen, Yun-Fat Chow, Monica Mok, Siu-Wong Fan
    “ They keep postponing the premiere of the most anticipated
    of ´em all. First in a trilogy! ” – Lefars

    “The Protector 2”
    Director: Prachya Pinkaew
    Stars: Tony Jaa, Marrese Crump, JeeJa Yanin, Petchtai Wongkamlao

    “Iron Monk”
    “Haunted by memories of his past that leave
    him unable to practice kung fu, an ex-Shaolin Monk lives quietly in
    London's Chinatown…”
    Director: Isaac Florentine
    Stars: Zara Phythian, Silvio Simac, Jason Ninh Cao, Mark Strange

    “Once Upon a Time in Shanghai”
    “A laborer moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich. But ends up using his kung fu skills to survive.”
    Director: Ching-Po Wong
    Stars: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Andy On, Philip Ng, Luxia Jiang

    “Dut Shu Sun Fun”
    Director: Clarence Fok Yiu-leung
    Stars: Donnie Yen, Tian Jing, Hanyu Zhang, Collin Chou

    Let us see these please!

  • http://guideme.blogspot.com/ Mike Frett

    A Majority of films make the most money from foreign showings. So you are right, if Hollywood goes where the money is, it will not be movies for American audiences.