By Chen Dujuan
Shortly before Spring Festival, word got out that Hong Kong martial arts star Jackie Chan would open the first theater in his cinema franchise in West Beijing on February 8. Boasting 17 screens, 3,500 seats total and occupying 15,000 square meters of the fifth and sixth floors of Le Mall, north of Wukesong Stadium, it takes the ticket as the largest movie theater in China.
Starting with the preview of Little Big Soldier, starring none other than Jackie Chan, the theater has been in trial operations up to now; the grand opening is scheduled for April, according to Yang Jie, the marketing assistant of Jackie Chan Yaolai International Cinema and Sparkle Roll Group Limited (based in Hong Kong). They chose the west-side location, Yang said, because "the company aims to offer more luxurious options in West Beijing and the place has convenient transportation, both subway and bus."
On March 6, to celebrate box office yields of 136 million yuan for his latest flick, Chan and his movie team came to the theater to show their gratitude to his fans and the media in a press event where Chan, appar-ently unfazed by the film's success, sought constructive feedback from the audience, saying, "For a long time, what I've heard is all praise and approval; I don't even see online criticism. I hope audiences can find my shortcomings to criticize me, so that I can make better efforts."
The event took place in the largest theater, with 599 seats and a 24-meter-wide screen over a hydraulic stage. "The stage was designed for holding concerts and activities such as movie promotions," Yang noted.
Not so subtle
It's pretty obvious upon arrival who's behind the theater's opening. Evidence of Chan is endemic, with "Jackie Chan Theater" etched thousands of times on just about ev-erything, Rush Hour posters on the walls and an Action Jackie mannequin dangling from the ceiling, perilously close to the blades of a replica helicopter.
After letting his audience wait for half an hour, Chan arrived on stage to cheers. "I'm happy to gather with the media and audience friends in our home," he enthused to the over-packed house.
These shows can never just get going, however. The crowd was first subjected to Vitas' "Opera 2," performed by Hei Ni of the CCTV "Star Boulevard" program. Cue the warm applause again.
This was followed by university student debate teams arguing about the conclusion of Chan's film and whether or not his character should have died or not – spoiler alert: for the first time in one of his film's, Chan's character does indeed die – with plenty of interjection from the man himself, who may have bitten off more than he could chew in this economy when he said, "All of you are very eloquent. If you graduate and need to find a job, I welcome all of you to work for my company." Then again, maybe he was talking about serving up popcorn and taking tickets in the theater.
The activity culminated when Chan, ever the performer, sang the theme song of the movie, "Rape Flowers," with a bouquet of the blossoms in his well-muscled hand.
Checking out the big screen
Afterward, guests were treated to a viewing of Chan's 1989 film Miracle. Lu Shaoke, 27, a freelance film critic, told Lifestyle, "I was sitting in the 12th row, and I felt the effects were satisfactory. The scale of the screen was the same or even bigger than some IMAX ones. It's only regretful they don't have actually have IMAX."
Except for that flaw, the cinema is the first of its size and kind to be equipped with top-end 2K digital motion picture projectors from the United States in all screening rooms; it also has film cameras from Italy in five rooms. Some of the screening rooms are wheelchair acccessible, and five offer free hearing aids to the hearing impaired, according to Yang, who also said that 15 more cinemas are scheduled to open within the year, in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Each will be themed with one or two of Chan's movies.
Chan explained his decision to open the cinema to the Beijing Times back in Febru-ary: "The Chinese film industry developed so fast in recent years, so I hope more audiences can walk into cinemas to support its development. I have a plan for the nation to see good quality movies in good quality cinemas, so we plan to offer low ticket prices here."
However, Yang told Lifestyle, "The price level isn't determined yet. It's always decided by cinema circuit, so probably the price will be comparable to other cinemas in town. But I believe the good visual and sound effects can make this place a better value for its price."
Address: 5-6/F, Le Mall, No. 69 Yuyuantan Nanlu, Haidian District 海淀区玉渊潭南路69号华熙乐茂商城5-6层
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
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