China has become one of the biggest markets for international films. Chinese audiences are passionate about well-made films and many films from around the globe have been doing remarkably well in China. Realizing this, Bollywood film makers gradually penetrated the market and have now successfully made their mark in China.

Aamir Khan’s Dangal in particular broke all records and become the highest grossing Indian film in China. Dangal raked in over $ 193 million from China, becoming a worldwide success. Later Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar which couldn’t do much in India, managed to rake in $ 117 million from China.

Aamir Khan seems to have acquired a fan following in China simply because of the good content of his films. Two of the major reasons why Secret Superstar did well in China was firstly because this film starred Dangal famed Aamir Khan and secondly it revolved around a tale of a young girl struggling to achieve her dreams very much like in Dangal. Apparently, Chinese primarily connect with the theme of women empowerment.

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In contrast, India’s superhit films Baahubali 2 and Sultan did poorly in China. Both the films did remarkably well in India however they could not even come close to Aamir Khan’s numbers in China. Baahubali 2 managed to make $ 12 million from China while Salman Khan’s Sultan only made $ 5 million.

In stark comparison, smaller films from India performed better than Bollywood’s biggies, relying solely on good content. Small films like Hindi Medium collected over $ 30 million while Andhadhun cruised past the $35 million mark.

It is interesting to note that Andhadhun has been a raving success everywhere else as it banked upon a gripping narrative. However the film’s performance in China was still average compared to Aamir Khan’s film. So while good content does have better chances in China than other films, it is still the films dealing with women empowerment or social issues which truly stand out in China.

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The pattern clearly indicates that the Chinese market has an eye for good content and that they outright reject bad content even if it has a stellar cast, a big budget or embeds saleable commercial elements. Likewise, they have rejected commercial films such as Salman Khan’s Sultan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Shahrukh Khan’s Happy New Year.

Film makers need to understand the intricacies of the Chinese Market before trying their luck there. What works for one market may not work for another and therefore only those films should release in China, which cater to their taste. Most of the films which work well in China are female centric or they highlight a social issue such as Hindi Medium.

Similarly, Pakistani film makers should keep the Chinese market in mind before releasing their films in China. Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi starrer The Legend of Maula Jatt will undoubtedly be a hit in Pakistan as it has action, suspense and romance however these commercial elements may not work in China. Likewise, commercial films like Teefa In Trouble, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 or Parwaaz Hai Junoon do not stand any chance in China.

Shoaib Mansoor is one of those creative geniuses of Pakistan who has created profound films which may resonate with the Chinese audiences. He is a visionary and a masterful story teller whose tales hold the power to compel as they have been tackling with grave and sensitive issues.

His film Bol would have been perfect for China as it promoted women empowerment. Shoaib Mansoor’s Verna also has a lot of chances at the Chinese market even though the film faced rejection in Pakistan. The film tackled with rape and it is a female led movie which is why it is likely to do wonders in China.

In addition, China has a quota on the number of films being imported into their market. Therefore, all films have to compete before being selected for screening in China. The competition is tough and only quality content gets to penetrate into the Chinese market. Film makers would have to really step up their game in order to represent Pakistan globally.

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  1. Mustansar Hayat April 25, 2019

    I spent four and half years in China, and saw some Indian movies being popular in India... Amir Khan got his fame from "3-idiots" because the problems stressed upon in the movie resonated well with the youth of China... and later on almost all of his movies were received well there, because they had good subjects and were intelligently made, as the writer described above. And i agree that Shoaib Mansoor is the only movie maker in Pakistan whose movies have a chance in China. And Pakistani drama also has great potential; if marketed properly, it can impress the Chinese audience. So many great dramas have been made in Pakistan TV history. Our drama makers are much better than our movie makers, some are even world class, ShoMan being one of them. So they should try to promote Pakistani drama also in China.