China is Having a Little Mini Movie Poster Revolution

Blackface be Damned, Wakanda Forever!

By Ryan Carroll, Managing Editor

June, 2019

Editorial

With the release of localized Spider-Man: Far From Home promo posters.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home

And, of Alita: Battle Angel that shook the China box-office earlier this year.

Alita: Battle Angel
Alita: Battle Angel

Along with, Venom being a Chinese girl’s perfect boyfriend…..?

Venom (the “perfect boyfriend” – social media promo)

I thought we would take a look back down memory lane to an earlier article on Black Panther‘s Chinese Chun Jie New Year promo poster and the mini-revolution of movie posters at the China Box-Office: without further adieu!

Help us Drew Struzan, you’re are only hope!

Is what Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige should be chanting at night to the MCU Ancients, after looking at the trash posters they have put out. I’m talking about RDJ’s head being Photoshop onto poorly done CGI Iron Man suit, that looks more like an elementary student’s classroom collage project. Than a professionally done movie poster!

People complain about Marvel villains, when they should be complaining about the amateur-hour movie posters they produce, because, at least, the poorer Marvel villains tend to be “mirror-images” of the hero. That in the end does still serve a story-point, in the establishments of those characters.

I am only pointing this out in a short non-thesis article, because look what China just dropped as their official Marvel’s Black Panther movie poster for its upcoming release on March, 9th!

Wakanda Forever!

This is not the first time we have seen some badass Hollywood movie posters reimaged in a localized form, for their Chinese release.

Alien: Covenant

I have no idea why the “Alien” is fishing, but it’s an awesome!

Is he smiling? I think so!

Alien: Covenant

This is a little more on the “traditional take” of what an Alien poster should be.

Still amazing!

Though the movie did not do great in China, but that’s mostly do to Hollywood’s confusion of Chinese love for fantasy with “Hard Sci-fi”, than just a “bad year” for Hollywood sci-fi films in China.

Chinese films may be breaking box-office records at home, but they do not travel outside of the Sinosphere like foreign films do. This can be attributed to their, cultural appeal, and to their lack of quality. Especially, in regards to CGI use in their films – they do have costumes and sets down, but other FX varies wildly from film to film.

TNMT

One area where China is striving in artistic quality, is in their movie posters designs and artwork. Many evoking a Chinese aesthetic to them, adding a local appeal that can even be appreciated outside of the China Cultural Sphere.

One look tells you, not only what the product is – TMNT – but where is it being marketed to.

TMNT

We haven’t seen quality work from movie posters in Hollywood since the heyday of the 80s. Led by the master himself, Drew Struzan. His work was so important that Netflix carried a documentary about his life and work amply titled, Struzan.

John Carpenter’s The Thing

The man even made Masters of the Universe look like it would be a quality piece of work, even though it was from schlock masters Menahem & Yoram aka Cannon Films.

MastersOfTheUniverse

Ah, my childhood…. But, I digress.

When China is put in control of creating original localized movie posters for the market you get something like this for Ant-Man.

Ant-Man and Friends in Hualian

A Jingju Hualian – Beijing Opera Painted Face – inspired teaser poster, that highlights to Chinese audiences that Black PantherVision, and Ant-Man all belong to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).

…. actually, this might be for Captain America: Civil War, but that’s besides the point!

But, when Hollywood marketing teams are in charge of creating the Chinese movie poster for their upcoming tentpole release you get something like this:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Blackface during Chinese Spring Festival Gala TV performances? OK! …. but, let’s make the black male lead a little tinier, and stuffed between all the cool looking droids & spaceship, because you know….

Yep, this happened…..

Wakanda forever?

Wow, this article got socially-politically charged in ways that was not planned. Maybe, I am channeling my inner Ta-Nehisi Coates, but with a worse writing style?

But, I digress?

Chinese movie posters are one of the most interesting things going on in modern Chinese cinema to date, with some cool work that harks back to Chinese traditional artwork. While others are just trying to find their own style, in a medium that is really taking off to find its own.

From great original animated works, that has influence in Japanese anime, but is finding its own voice in Chinese 2D Culture.

Dahufa
Big Fish and Begonia

To live-action wuxia films that takes inspiration traditional Chinese Inkwash painting, and also remind us of the heyday of Japanese samurai black & white cinema in the 60s.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin
A little more traditional Inkwash technique that is very well used in Chinese posters.

To some crazy D&D shit!

Mojin: The Lost Legend

To the modern fantasy that China loves so dearly.

Monster Hunt
Mojin: The Lost Legend

China has some really great work and unfortunately, I am not aware of; who these art studios are, if they are done in-house, or if it is a series of artist who is producing the majority of these works???

What I do know is, that there is an art revolution going on in China among young (I suspect young…) artist in the field of Chinese cinema one-sheets.

If you have any information regarding movie posters, please feel free to reach out or comment below.

If you have any personal favorites, please paste them into the comments below.

As I would love to share with the rest of my fellow China Watchers what is available in the Middle Kingdom, and how Hollywood could learn to go back to its poster roots.

Stay tuned China Watchers

Part of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn Publishing in Feb. of 2018.

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About the Author
Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.