The awkwardness of the 10th anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Shanghai

We have already seen too many film festivals to be held successfully, such as the historic Cannes International Film Festival or the young Asian World Film Festival. These events  spread the value of movies and films and attract the attention from media, fashion and entertainment worldwide. However, I would like to talk about one relatively unsuccessful example, Marvel 10th Anniversary Film Festival. More specifically, the Shanghai stop of this film festival world tour in April this year.

The world tour of the Marvel 10th anniversary is not a technically film festival, although its scale and organisation are extremely similar. And the Marvel China promotion team in Shanghai used the name of film festival to do the promotion and media publicity. The major event, Marvel 10th anniversary ceremony, was held in the popular spot of the newly-built Shanghai Disney Resort with the attendance of four leading actors in Marvel super hero movies. But fans were in rage after the event and they triggered a social media war against the Marvel China promotion team for “what they described as an unprofessional, embarrassing, and shambolic event” (Yin 2018, para. 1). Fans complained about the sloppy arrangement, disorder of site organization, amateur and impoliteness of the event host and the appearance of too many unexpected and “irrelevant” Chinese local stars as guests. At same time, some fans replied on Robert Downey Jr’s Instagram to apologize for the embarrassment. Even the posting of the official declaration of apology from the Marvel China promotion team after the event could not ease the anger.

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Four leading actors (second, fourth, fifth and sixth from the right:Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland and Mark Ruffalo) were in an awkward position.

Facing the constantly fast-developing markets, movie festivals as gatekeepers may need to react faster. With the technology development and the popularization of social media, the identity of gatekeeper is not indubitable as it used to be. The wave of globalization is unstoppable, and it is clear to see that countries like China are the Garden of Eden to many film manufacturers and studios to generate profits. The information lag can be disastrous in the 21st century. Many factors including national policies and personal bias may cause this situation. According to the information gained from the Chinese microblogging social platform, Weibo, the underestimate about Chinese film market from leaders in Marvel China promotion team leaded the embarrassing situation. They believed that Marvel film fans in China would be easily attracted by local stars and ignored the powerful influence of Marvel Studio and fans’ improved quality without proper market research. At the same time, they underestimated the Marvel Studio’s popularity around the whole world.

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Chinese Marvel fans apologized to Robert Downey Jr. for the unprofessional event on Instagram.

Looking back at Chinese film market, its awkward condition has existed for a long time. Due to the lack of reasonable film classification system and the restrictions of film creation and production, good movie works have been seen rarely on film screen in China. Many Chinese film festivals have turned to the playgrounds that we Chinese entertain ourselves. The weakening power of gatekeeper may make it worse. The movie festivals planners may learn to use their power cautiously to avoid another Shanghai Marvel 10th anniversary ceremony situation.

Reference:

Yin, Y 2018, ‘Marvel China Apologizes As Avengers Fans Assemble’, SIXTH TONE, viewed 15 August 2018, https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1002140/marvel-china-apologizes-as-avengers-fans-assemble

Moses, 2018, About the Marvel 10th anniversary ceremony in Shanghai, online image, viewed 16 August 2018, https://movie.douban.com/subject/24773958/discussion/615358801/?author=1

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