BEIJING : The year 2018 will be remembered in the history of Chinese cinema because “most of the successful films were based on real-life stories, or explored social issues,” according to a report by China Daily Wednesday, quoting a scholar.

Zuo Heng, deputy director of the cinematic culture research department at the China Film Archive, said this marked a revitalisation of cinematic realism.

The report suggested China’s movie market eyed a new approach while real-life stories and social issues attracted audiences, according to Xinhua news agency.

Last year, domestic feature films accounted for 62 per cent of the nation’s box-office revenue, the highest since the Chinese film industry started to take off in the early 2000s.

While Hollywood is dominated by movies about superheroes, China has seen a shift in tastes. Realistic themes have started to attract vast audiences who were previously more interested in action blockbusters and domestic comedies.

‘Operation Red Sea’ and ‘Dying to Survive’, top and third, respectively, on last year’s box-office charts, were both based on true stories.

‘Operation Red Sea’ was inspired by the People’s Liberation Army’s evacuation of nearly 580 Chinese nationals from Yemen in early 2015.

Jiang Yong, a film industry analyst in Beijing, said ‘Operation Red Sea’ reinforced investors’ confidence that a realistic contemporary film could also be a commercial success.

Social dramas reflecting changes in China or examining the lives of ordinary people have also won acclaim and success.

‘Dying to Survive’ was based on the true story of Lu Yong, a leukemia patient who illegally bought unlicensed cancer drugs overseas for himself and many other patients.

It touched Chinese audiences and triggered public recognition for struggling families who could not afford life-saving medication.

‘A Cool Fish’, a low-budget local comedy with no A-list actors, beat Hollywood rivals including ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’, to dominate box-office charts in late November. This film tackles hot social issues.

“Such success will encourage more talented people to join in the creation of realistic stories. They can use their influence to boost the development of society,” said Zhong Dafeng, a professor with the Beijing Film Academy. – Bernama