Xi Jinping movie a box office smash – because people are forced to watch it
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Xi Jinping movie a box office smash – because people are forced to watch it

CHINA’S President Xi Jinping has had a busy few weeks. With his clearing a path to rule indefinitely, the inevitable parallels with Chairman Mao, and the sweeping changes he has implemented to China’s parliament, it would have been easy to miss the Xi-centred record-breaking box office smash that hails his leadership.

Amazing China, as the state-produced documentary is called, hit theatres on March 2 and has proven a resounding success, raking in over 300 million yuan (US$47 million) since its release.

Critics and state media have called it a widely-loved “epic” with “mind-blowing sequences” and the ability to have a “huge social effect” in the country.

“The documentary serves as a model for quality mainstream movies and shows that works of art can be more than just mere entertainment,” Zhao Baohua, movie critic and deputy director of the Chinese Film Literature Association, told China Daily.

SEE ALSO: China bans people with bad ‘social credit’ from air travel, trains

High praise indeed. But the movie’s place as the highest grossing documentary movie in China’s history may not be solely down to good camera angles and captivating narrative.

Mandatory viewings of the film are undoubtedly helping it creep towards its target of one billion yuan of ticket sales. According to a report from the South China Morning Post, employees of state-owned enterprises have been ordered to watch Amazing China. The Federation of Trade Unions in Guangdong province also put out a notice requiring the active promotion of the film, including the organisation of theatre viewings.

“In addition to the news about [scrapping] presidential term limits, this is all a bit too much,” a staffer who was forced to watch the movie told the Hong Kong paper.

SEE ALSO: Xi Jinping set to rule indefinitely after China removes term limit

The 90-minute documentary focuses on a series of achievements China has made since Xi came to power in 2012. It’s aimed at demonstrating the country’s strength in scientific, technological, diplomatic and military fields. According to AFP, Xi himself appears every few minutes to offer fresh wisdom and drive home the message.

The film is one of the highest rated movies on Chinese review site Maoyan, pulling in an impressive 9.6 out of 10 rating. But the more trustworthy movie-review site Douban has reportedly disabled the comments section and is only allowing media ratings of the film.

On international review site IMDb, Xi’s propaganda project has received a less glowing appraisal, getting just one star out of five after 93.4 percent of the almost 2,500 votes went for the lowest possible score.

The comments section on IMDb has also been removed despite having numerous comments from viewers. There has been no explanation as to why the site has deleted previously posted reviews.

The movie is part of the Communist Party’s drive to better engage China’s youth through its propaganda machinery. Past attempts include rap music videos, mobile chat stickers and comic books.

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