Source Code opens in China today, one of only 20 foreign films to open on the Chinese mainland due to a quota system currently in place. Things may change in the future, with up to 1,600 new cinema screens being added per year to service a growing appetite for both local, and foreign films (1). Even GERTY has seen the potential, with actor Kevin Spacey starring in entirely locally funded feature ‘Inseparable‘, where 50% of the dialogue will be in Mandarin (2).
So it seems, for the moment, Source Code is lucky to be one of the 20 foreign films screening this year, and thanks to meeting new friends on Twitter, it may be that Chinese fans have had something to do with it’s selection, and one fan in particular, who has been supporting Duncan Jones work since the 2009 release of MOON…
Duncan Jones first feature, the critically acclaimed and multiple award winning MOON starring Sam Rockwell did not receive a release in China when released in 2009, or since. This has not stopped word spreading about the Directors stunning debut over there though. As copies of the home release began to hit the shelves in the US and Europe, fans were eagerly importing copies on DVD. Possible there may also been a few so keen to see MOON, that they had to resort to downloading a copy, in a weird way I guess it shows a measure of demand for a film if there are many copies being downloaded, but hopefully those that do will fall in love with MOON as many have, and pick up a proper copy. With the release of Source Code in mainland China, Duncan has also appealed to the potential audience out there to go and see it at the cinema.
One person we know will be at the cinema to see Source Code on day one, will be our new friend over in Wuxi, Jiangsu China, Jessie.
Jessie has been supporting Duncan’s work since MOON’s release in 2009, despite restrictions on internet access, and limited availability of MOON itself, Jessie has continued to support through to the release of Source Code today. So I asked Jessie to tell us all about it, and she did, and we are blown away by how a little English Sci-FI film back in 2009, has grown to have such a great fan base over in China.
Over to Jessie:
I first heard about the film MOON in February, 2009. I’d just become a fan of Sam Rockwell and was keeping an eye on the new projects he was doing. I found the trailer on the internet in April almost immediately after it was released and I never forget how amazed I was when I watched it. Actually I couldn’t even recall the last time I’d been this excited about a film. I made it top of my ‘2009 films to look forward to’ list right away and started to search for any related information that I could find on the net, which ultimately brought me to the Twitter page of its director Duncan Jones.
I’d been wondering for quite a while if MOON would be theatrically released in mainland China and was thingking about asking him through Twitter. I had doubts as to whether he would read my tweets and even reply to me but,reading a lot of his interviews on the net made me decide to contact him – he always seemed to be such an intelligent, talented and humourous young man and at the same time extremely polite, friendly, down-to-earth, which was completely contrary to my previous impression of directors in general. So I tweeted him asking about the possibility of MOON showing here and he replied to me immediately that he would ask Sony Picture Classics the production company and expressed his wish of coming to China one day.
What was on my mind at that moment was what I could do to make it happen ie MOON getting released in China. I was clearly aware that things like this didn’t merely depend on the audience. A lot of other things had to be taken into consideration. But what if I called for as many people as possible to contact Mr Jones and express the wish for a Chinese release? That at least could let him know there was a big market here and people were definitely interested in his project. So I wrote a post on the page for MOON on www.douban.com (douban.com is one of the biggest Chinese community website about films,music,books,etc. a bit like IMDB,where there is a separate page for any film and people can rate,discuss,and share trailer links about the film.) about my ‘getting in touch’ with Duncan Jones, director of this brilliant forthcoming sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell. My aim was to let people know that MOON would be one of the most exciting 2009 films to look out for and tell them to get in touch with Duncan Jones through Twitter. To my surprise,the post generated countless hits and replies in a very short period of time. People all seemed awed by the fact that I managed to contact the director. Many agreed with me that judging by the trailer,the film looked very promising. As my post continued to get views and replies, I started to spread the word on other entertainment websites, including Sam Rockwell’s online fan communities.
Although as we know, at last MOON didn’t make the Chinese release, it did start the fan following. Two months after my initial post about MOON and director Duncan Jones, a special feature about indie films of 2009 was published on Movie View, one of the best-selling film magazines in China.
The feature started with my story about speaking with Duncan Jones on Twitter and introduced him to readers as the piorneer of modern sci-fi films. It tagged MOON as the ‘2001:A Space Odyssey’ of the 21st century and a mind-blowing piece of work. On the net, more and more people were choosing it as their film to see and starting to ask where or how they could watch it. It did hugely disappoint many people that Moon wasn’t shown here. But most of us eventually found ways to watch it after the DVD was released in North America and Europe.And then the number of fans started to explode. At that time almost all the reviews on Douban were getting tons of replies every week. People just couldn’t stop talking about the film. Some were even seriously debating at length on questions like ‘why’s Sam’s body decaying’, ’does the real Sam know all this cloning project’, ’what is the message that the film is trying to convey’, etc. etc. There were pages and pages of discussion and some people even said they hadn’t had the joy to discuss about a film this seriously in years. A friend of mine also bought a framed MOON poster off the internet. I was really happy that the film was received so well among movie fans in general. Still am. Looking back, I think it could be considered as a phenomenon, and not so surprisingly, this phenomenon has evolved into an even bigger one ever since the release of the Source Code trailer.
I don’t know why but this time I had a feeling that this second project from Duncan Jones had a much greater chance of a Chinese release. And again, just like two years ago, I asked Duncan on Twitter several times if it would be shown here. I also wrote on Douban telling people to register with Twitter and get in touch with the director. MOON had already gathered a large fan base in China since the last two years and when people read my post on the Douban page for Source Code, they all showed support. Many of them made the efforts to bypass the web block and sent messages to Duncan through Twitter. The film has generated even more attention among Chinese movie fans than the last one.
The Movie View magazine featured a six-page article (attachment 2&3) on Source Code in the April issue (a poster of the film was also included in this issue)
People were starting to spread rumours about an August official release here in China and when the confirmation finally came, fans were all overjoyed. Although the film’s getting released in China had probably nothing to do with me but I still had a feeling like ‘my efforts finally paid off’. Just a few days ago, Duncan published an appeal to Chinese fans to go see the film at the cinema and I’ve been telling everyone around me to do so, as well as people on the internet.
I’m not in the media business and I never know how it works. But with the help of the internet, I’ve managed to contact one of my all-time favourite directors and show my support directly to him, which I would never believe before. I’m so glad I did something to let people know about Mr Jones’ films here in China. I will definitely continue my support and help with promotion for every future project he does. I always believe he’s the director that deserves my biggest support and every effort to help spread the word.
Amazing work Jessie, thank you so much for all your support in China, and for telling us all about it, I’d say “Hope you enjoy ‘Source Code'” but I know you will. Can’t wait to hear how the Chinese audience react 🙂
You can follow Jessie on Twitter, and say hello if you like 🙂