China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), the country’s top regulator overseeing its media industry, has released a notice announcing that 5,000 movie theaters nationwide will become “People’s Theaters,” Sina Entertainment reports. The goal is to “further utilize screening resources, increase overall attendance rate, and improve filmings and screenings of films that sing the main melody films (i.e. those that promote officially approved messages 主旋律电影 zhǔxuánlǜdiànyǐng).
The document orders selected theaters to dedicate screens to playing “main melody” films or other “important” films in addition to commercial ones. “People’s Theaters” are encouraged to organize group viewing sessions, and offer discounted tickets for main melody films.
“Main melody films” refers to a specific genre of Chinese films that are “charged with spreading civilized thought, improving social integration, and reflecting state-sanctioned interpretations of historical events,” explains Sixth Tone. Featuring patriotic themes, these films usually perform badly at China’s box office in competition with Hollywood imports, at least before 2017, when Wolf Warriors 2 (战狼二 zhàn láng èr) broke box office records in China with a whopping 5.6 billion yuan ($844 million).
According to the notice, SAPPRFT will primarily choose movie theaters that have never violated regulations and have multiple auditoriums with more than 100 seats to transform into “People’s Theaters.”
Moreover, for each province and city, the number of “People’s Theaters” should be in direct proportion to the number of overall theaters they have. For instance, Jiangsu Province is stipulated to have 437 of such special theaters, while Qinghai Province, a less-developed area, is expected to have 14.