Investors in Chinese IP adaptations turning to patriotic and realistic stories

Online fantasy literature has probably been the hottest source of TV and film adaptations in China in recent years. However, with the recent success of more realistic and patriotic fare such as anti-graft TV series In the Name of People and military action flick Wolf Warrior 2, currently the highest-earning film ever in China, that trend may be changing.

On Friday, renowned Chinese IP agency and bookseller the Xiron Group announced that in addition to its usual investments into popular fantasy and romance adaptations, it was investing 100 million yuan ($15 million) into a project that will work to adapt 10 mainstream literature works into films or TV series.

Main-themed projects

The 10 works include Tebie Youzhong (Especially Bold), a novel about a group of young soldiers in China’s Special Forces written by Dong Qun, one of Wolf Warrior 2’s screenwriters; popular online novel Xingzhe Xuanzang (The Traveler Xuanzang), a fictional story by librarian-turned-author Chang Ru based on the real life Tang Dynasty (618-907) Buddhist monk Xuanzang; and Zhongguangcun Biji (Notes on Zhongguancun), a non-fiction work award-winning Chinese writer Ning Ken wrote based on interviews with the first generation of entrepreneurs who helped make Zhongguancun in Beijing – China’s answer to Silicon Valley – what it is today.

“By viewing Zhongguancun’s history against the background of China’s economical development and systematic reform, Notes on Zhongguancun is a classic story of the Chinese Dream that focuses on high technology,” Xiron Group CEO Shen Haobo said at the announcement.

Depicting a number of scientist-turned-entrepreneurs including Chen Chunxian, a Chinese Academy of Sciences scientist and one of the men behind the Zhongguancun high technology pilot zone, the story is an unusually rich and realistic source ripe for a movie or TV adaptation, Shen explained.

As for The Traveler Xuanzang, a Xiron press release described it as “a representative work that resonates perfectly with China’s Belt and Road initiative.”

“Xuanzang’s story in India as depicted in the book, while it is not very familiar to audiences in China, is sure to become an exhilarating story when adapted into a film or TV drama,” Shen said.

New trends

Shen stated that while fantasy IP adaptations are all the rage, he believes patriotic works as well as those focusing on stories close to people’s lives are about to become the next big trend when it comes to IP adaptations in China.

“The success of the Wolf Warrior series, In the Name of People and the recent [film on ‘comfort women’] Twenty-two has proven that the demand for productions featuring positive values and a positive spirit is growing,” Shen said.

Xiron also officially launched production on one of the 10 projects announced Friday: Kangming (Fighting Against Destiny), which focuses on Chinese heroes taking on the Japanese Army in 1941 during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), will be adapted into a TV series.

“Many people told me not to write about the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression since previous poor quality domestic productions about the war have destroyed the genre,” Zhou Jianliang, author of Fighting Against Destiny and a former member of China’s special forces, said at the launch ceremony.

“But the story I wrote this time is interesting – it is a down-to-earth war drama featuring a group of fresh faced young fighters,” Zhou noted.

While many in the industry feel that the box-office success of Wolf Warrior 2 is about to kick off a new wave of patriotic films, some experts feel that this wave may just turn out to be a temporary fad.

“The two popular productions [In the Name of People and Wolf Warrior 2], with their outside-the box stories, may be able to increase audience’s excitement and feelings of patriotism over the short term, but it’s still early to say that this genre is becoming a ‘trend,'” Duan Huaiqing, a professor at Fudan University’s Department of Chinese Language and Literature, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Source: Global Times


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