[News Corner] Chinese drama industry under fire for valuing big names more than quality and creativity

Be it the actors or the plot, many drama productions have been heavily relying on big names in the past few years. Remaking popular Chinese novels or popular dramas from other countries has almost become the norm and big stars are often preferably casted instead of new talented faces.

The SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television) and five ministries just sent out a notice saying that creativity and originality as well as content that enriches knowledge should be encouraged. Drama prices and distribution should be determined by these criteria, having big names as the only criterion should be strictly prohibited in order to safeguard a healthy development of the industry. Variety shows and web dramas should follow the same criteria.

The drama industry believes that the government is attacking high-cost productions with big names like last year’s “Ice Fantasy” or the upcoming “Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace“.
This is actually not the first time the government has been trying to force the industry into a new direction, notices pointing in this way have been released since last year.

Famous screenwriter Wang Hai Lin (Legend of Chu and Han, Patriot) said in an interview with ChinaNews that the government has already realized the seriousness of the problem. Looking at the lineup of the big TV stations for 2017 and 2018, one can see that most dramas are productions with big stars in it. The notice also mentions that creativity and originality should be encouraged, but remakes are still in high regard, even though many of those “pointless” and costume dramas currently fail to enthuse the viewers. The percentage of this kind of dramas has never been as high as now. Perhaps today’s notice can finally change something.

In a special topic on CCTV was also critizised that those extremely expensive actors can’t make up for the bad quality of some productions, pointing at last year’s “Ice Fantasy” or the movie “So You’re Still There”. The head of the Movie and TV Broadcast research center at Qinghua University Yin Hong also explains that those productions are harmful to the industry and lead to heavy imbalances in production funds while the overall production quality is deteriorating. Some productions don’t choose the most fitting actors but go for big names instead. The notice could help to reinstall a healthy balance.
However, Yin Hong also mentions that  viewers have already started to prefer high-quality productions over big names. Furthermore, some production companies have become aware of the problem and are raising new talents.

Source: Sina

What are your opinions on this trend of casting big names? Are you against novel adaptations and other remakes or do you love watching them?




9 thoughts on “[News Corner] Chinese drama industry under fire for valuing big names more than quality and creativity

  1. Lili says:

    When it comes to casting big names, I think the situation is currently even worse in Korea. They keep on casting all those idols who can’t act even though Korea doesn’t lack any talent. Instead, there are so many talented actors who only get casted in supporting roles and never really get the chance to shine. And I don’t think Korea is doing anything against it.

  2. Ray says:

    It’s only normal that viewers will demand high quality over time, lol. Watching some dumb repititive plot with pretty faces can be a nice distraction sometimes, but you quickly get tired of it.

  3. grey says:

    I don’t think there’s any harm in novel adaptations and remakes. We love watching it either have any big name or not. I don’t understand why pointing towards ice fantasy.Its such a fabulous novel adaptation.

    • Lili says:

      I didn’t watch Ice Fantasy, but maybe it isn’t about the plot but because they casted pretty faces?

      I’m not against novel adaptations in general either. If the novel has a good story, why not? I think the bigger problem is that idols are casted for many dramas instead of more talented actors.

  4. Vee says:

    I just find it interesting that in China government meddles with entertainment industry. And why Ice Fantasy? Everybody in China knows Ice Fantasy was a bad news I don’t think anyone would want to follow its step. If there’s any drama that should be considered ‘harmful’ for entertainment industry I would say it’s something like Princess Agent. That’s the epitome of show that got tremendously popular only because of big names despite crappy editing and story .

  5. forgot says:

    I agree with one of the comments that Princess Agent as an example for a bad drama. The latest drama pattern that likes to dabble in the topic of mistreating women over many episodes is disturbing. The currently broadcasting one, The King’s Woman, and PA are both in that genre. Generally many palace dramas already have that creepy element to begin with. Without focusing on female slaves or the likes.
    It makes me think of the K film that had young girls bullying a young girl, then the news headline from this week of teenage girls in real life doing the same thing. It’s disturbing in that sense.
    Don’t recent C drama news releases contain a lot of new names? I don’t recognize many of the names. But I often confuse TV dramas with web ones.
    The C drama industry is inexplicable. Actors like Peter Sheng Yilun, Angelababy, Zhang Han, Zheng Shuang can get many roles while other better actors don’t get much screen time. A good number of the most popular actors are also not among the best when it comes to acting. Li Yifeng, William Chan, Tiffany Tang Yan, Liu Shi Shi, Crystal Liu, Yang Mi, and again ZS, AB. There is also too much focus on outer beauty, costumes, general appearances. Scripts and storylines lack variety, logic and consistency in many dramas.

  6. Lili says:

    Luckily there are still web dramas, I feel they are more diverse and creative. But only so few are subbed 🙁

  7. Anon says:

    The casting of big names does not really bother me that much if they actually bring something beneficial to the production like acting skills or being a ratings draw. When they don’t bring anything at all, and they are getting lead roles based on looks and popularity alone is when it starts to become a problem. As someone mentioned above Korea has this problem worse than China does, combine that with some of the sub par scripts that have come out this year and it has been reflected in the ratings which have been kind of bad this year with the exception of a few dramas.

    I actually liked PA and I’m enjoying TKW my biggest knock on both is the editing and inconsistent pace. The plots aren’t anything especially unique but I feel like the leads of both dramas made/ are making the productions better than they would be without them. I agree about web dramas though, maybe the diversity is because of less restrictions? Anyway as long as the government has a say in what can and cannot be aired on television as well as the somewhat indifferent attitude that some people in the mainland have towards things like copyright and plagiarism, I think any type of consistent creativity will be hard to come by in mainland china.

  8. Blue says:

    I actually don’t really care about big name actors or actresses since I feel that most series oversell their plot line. Most of the series I watched and then dropped because of the loose plot line or recycle old drama trope or only focusing on making everyone look pretty just so they can have more episodes. I dropped nothing gold can stay when they employed the Mary Sue trope. They could have cutting back on the episodes and wrote the story line differently. The production and acting for the series are top notch.
    I do watch more web drama since the episodes are not too long and the plot are tighter. At the end of the day, I just want to finish a series and not have to drop most of them.

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