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Big plans for tiny times

Publication Date : 17-07-2014

 

The latest installment of the highly criticised but immensely popular film series about a group of wealthy Shanghai youngsters is about to hit Chinese cinemas

 

His book series may be called "iny Times" but successful author and film director Guo Jingming has his sights set on big things as the third movie in his film series is released.

Tiny Times 3, adapted from his own novel, is released nationally today. It has been one year since the first two films in the series - released two months apart - divided the opinion of viewers and attracted blanket derision from critics.

"I don't expect it will be liked by everyone, but I will be satisfied if some people like it very much," the 31-year-old said at the premiere in Beijing.

He laid out his great expectations from the movie, and predicted ticket sales will surpass 500 million yuan ($80.5 million).

Big plans for tiny times

The series portrays the friendship and growing pains of four young women living in Shanghai. They start out as college students and later become young professionals. Critics have been harsh in condemning the portrayal of the protagonists' ostentatious lives.

Top film critic Raymond Zhou, who writes for China Daily, compared the film with Twilight but said the Hollywood vampire flick is more interesting, whereas Guo's film is shallow with bad taste.

On Douban.com, China's version of IMDb.com, the first installment of the film series scored a mere 4.8 points out of 10, and the second only 5.1.

However, the box office tells a different story. The two films, which were both released last year, gained a total 800 million yuan in box-office collections in 2013, ranking second only after Pacific Rim in the Chinese market that summer.

Guo also has some diehard supporters. Zhou's criticism of the film drew much rebuke from Guo's fans on social media.

When the film's premiere was held in a hotel, many of the young women who worked at the hotel abandoned their positions to join crowds of fans trying to take pictures of Guo.

Though teenage girls make up the majority of viewers, they are not the only ones who will watch the movie.

Niu Weikun, 26, a Beijing-based office worker, says she was a fan of the original novels in high school, and is now hooked on the big-screen adaptations. "The movies remind me of my time with old friends," she says.

"Rich families' lifestyles are common in Chinese movies today. It might be an overstatement it to say that the lavish lifestyles depicted will have a negative influence on teenage girls.

"Fine clothes will make the movies look beautiful. That's all."

Nevertheless, Niu says she would rather watch the third installment of the series later when it is available online because paying to go to the cinema is more worthwhile when going to see a film with special visual effects.

"It's a story about youth, but we expect the audience to be of all ages because all people must have some memory of their younger years," says Li Li, the chief producer of the movie.

"We want to find the emotional resonance."

Though the four young women' adventures continue in the same vein as the first two films, there are some surprises in Tiny Times 3, which mixes romance with a thriller.

There are fresh international faces, too, such as Korean actor and model Hyun-Jae Lee. Some scenes have been shot outside of China, including in Rome, Italy. Unusually, the films title appears on screen half an hour into the movie.

"There must be some dark side when growing up," Guo says. "However, no matter how dark the days we went through were, there will be some faint light flickering at the end of the tunnel."

The Tiny Times series is far from finished. Co-producer Angie Chai from Taiwan has revealed that the fourth installment is currently being edited.

Author Han Han will release his directing debut, a road-trip comedy, The Continent, next week. The close release dates have prompted inevitable comparisons between the two films and their directors.

"There are many different types of good movies. I will not compare myself to others and can only forge my own path as well as I can," Guo says.

Guo and Han, only a year apart in age, are generally considered to be the biggest literary rivals among Chinese writers of their generation. They came to fame in the same way - by winning the top prize in the same national writing contest as teenagers.

A reporter at the premiere asked Guo about Han once saying that Han wanted to make friends with him.

However, Guo's response to the offer of friendship was lukewarm. "I don't have many friends," he says. "And I don't want to make many friends."

 

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