The more Xu Musen thought about it, the more he felt that this was a good idea.
First of all, of the reasons why the “Black and White” crew decided on Tao Mu to play the role of Zhou Yuanting. The biggest reason was the publicity channels in Tao Mu’s hands. That was to say, the promotion strategy of the film “Black and White” in the mainland largely relied on FlyNews.com. Secondly, “The Great Wall of Flesh and Blood” produced by Tao Mu just made a big splash at the Lingxiao Awards ceremony and the honeymoon period with the organizer SARFT had not yet passed. If Tao Mu could come forward to discuss the review of the movie “Black and White” in the mainland, he believed that the big guys from SARFT would definitely not have this attitude.
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But most importantly, Tao Mu’s production and supervision ability was too great. While accurately getting the so-called “political correctness” required by the mainland, he could also take into account the ratings. This was exactly what Hong Kong producers couldn’t do.
In fact, a big reason why Xu Musen strongly opposed the rectification requirements of SARFT was that he didn’t know how to change the script at all. He didn’t know what the “political correctness” required by SARFT actually meant. And this was exactly what Tao Mu was best at.
Although Tao Mu had not produced a movie before, “The Great Wall of Flesh and Blood” that Tao Mu had previously produced and “Soldier Elite” which was currently under preparation were mainstream military dramas. So Xu Musen was also desperately looking for a solution, and he could only grasp Tao Mu as a life-saving straw.
“…..The premiere of “Black and White” in Hong Kong is scheduled for Christmas Eve. The release time is in about one month to forty days. Our original plan was to release it in the mainland in February after the release in Hong Kong. But now that the SARFT review has not passed, we can’t negotiate with the mainland theaters about the schedule. If we delay it any longer, I’m afraid we won’t be able to catch the New Year holiday slot.”
In fact, it was a bit late to talk about the New Year schedule. If it wasn’t for the “Black and White” crew having gathered too many big names from both sides of the strait, and every one of them was a box office guarantee. The theater distributors were simply too lazy to talk to the “Black and White” crew about the schedule. Even so, the mainland theater chain also gave an ultimatum to the “Black and White” production team. Until December 24th at the latest, that was, before the premiere of “Black and White” in Hong Kong, if the “Black and White” crew still couldn’t pass the SARFT audit, the mainland theaters would hand over the New Year slot in February to other movies.
“The 24th?” Tao Mu was instantly shocked: “Today is the 13th, you know?”
“That’s why!” Xu Musen was so anxious that his hair was turning white: “I also know that time is very short. But we have no other way. Who knows how to change the script to satisfy those big guys? Besides, even if the script is changed, it also takes time to reshoot and edit. How can it be done in ten days?”
In fact, according to the efficiency of Hong Kong’s filming industry, it was not too late to rewrite the script and reshoot within ten days. But Xu Musen had always possessed the habits of some literary and art workers, believing that he was a professional in making movies. The “Black and White” film directed by him, both in terms of film connotation and character depth, was full of very complete and solid characterization. The characters could not be simply described and defined by one-sided words such as “good guy” or “villain”.
The protagonist could do bad things for the needs of the plot. And according to the role of the villain, of course, the villain could also have morals. Therefore, in Xu Musen’s view, the “political correctness” that SARFT required that “villains must be subdued by the law” was simply inexplicable. It was something that only a layman could say.
Therefore, Xu Musen complained a lot in front of Tao Mu, saying that this was too late, and that was too late. In fact, most of them were just excuses. To put it bluntly, Xu Musen just didn’t want to bow his head in front of SARFT. Of course, if we break it down carefully, there likely also involved the issue of arm-wrestling between Hong Kong filmmakers and mainland filmmakers. If put on another level, this was a question of whether “art serves politics” or “art had nothing to do with politics”. Such was a tacit tug o’ war that everyone was aware of.
However, the facts prove that the filmmakers of Hong Kong were definitely not as good as SARFT when it comes to arm wrestling. The more intense the resistance, the longer the stalemate, and in the end, only the “Black and White” crew would suffer. This was the relationship between supply and demand that determines everything——”Black and White” needed the mainland market to contribute to the box office, but the mainland market did not lack movies like “Black and White” to fill in theater slots.
Even without this butcher, we still wouldn’t eat pig meat that still has hair on it. This was the confidence that SARFT had to halt “Black and White”.
Unfortunately, Xu Musen understood this too late. The relationship between the two sides was now very rigid. If there was no competent person to mediate, it was likely that even if the Hong Kong producers bow their head and remade the film, SARFT would still not happily pass the review. At that time, just as Tao Mu said, “Black and White” would miss the best schedule for release in the mainland. In the end, only the producers of “Black and White” would suffer.
Taking this into consideration, Xu Musen must enlist Tao Mu’s help.
With the memory of his previous life, Tao Mu also knew that the “Black and White” crew had been halted by SARFT for a year, but in the end, they still had no choice but to bow their heads, admit their mistake and change the script. But as a result, because of missing the best release date, it resulted in the painful experience of only getting 8 million yuan box office after the release.
At that time, Tao Mu was being suppressed by Shen Yu’s admirers. And because Xu Musen supported Shen Yu’s decision to win the Golden Crow Award for Best Newcomer, his relationship with the “Black and White” crew was not good either. Knowing this, he couldn’t even wait to gloat over their misfortune, and of course would not feel any pity.
But in this life, the position had changed, and the angle of view of things would naturally change. Tao Mu really felt that it would be a pity if “Black and White” could not be released in the mainland.
But on the matter of changing the script——Tao Mu was not a professional screenwriter, of course he would not know how to change the script. After thinking about it, he could only give revision opinions based on many movie reviews he had seen in his previous life, combined with his own thoughts.
Speaking of which, the revised mainland re-screening version of “Black and White” in the previous life was really weird. Don’t know what Xu Musen was thinking, but he actually asked the screenwriter to change Zhou Yuanting into a white lotus flower——according to the requirements of SARFT, the villain must be subdued by justice. So in Xu Musen’s revised script, Zhou Yuanting found his conscience after seeing Yan Yu blocking the gunshot for him, and he took the initiative to turn himself in to the police. He also volunteered to be a double-agent for the police, and swindled the mafia boss. In the end, both of them went to jail.
One could imagine that when Tao Mu in his previous life received the adapted script, his inner feelings were more than just a “f**k”, it was literally thousands of “grass mud horses” whizzing past his head. Not to mention that the characters of Zhou Yuanting and the mafia boss have completely collapsed, and thus the whole script was completely untenable. Compared with the ending of the classic Hong Kong version, the modified mainland version could only be described as “idiotic”.
After the mainland version was reviewed and released, die-hard fans who had seen the pirated version of “Black and White” for a long time bought tickets to the cinema, and after watching it, they could only curse angrily. They felt that the mainland remake version of “Black and White” was simply a three thousand feet nose-dive from the original, and the final ending was simply poop. More and more netizens posted comments on the Internet complaining about the film. As a result, the crew of “Black and White” took advantage of the situation and pushed this black pot to SARFT. In fact, it could not be considered a black pot. After all, the “Black and White” crew did modify the script according to the requirements of SARFT and SARFT passed the review in the end. To review a classic work into a shoddy comedy story, this pot had to be carried by SARFT.
But SARFT didn’t want to take the blame. And they felt that the production team of “Black and White” was definitely doing this on purpose. Deliberately creating two works with such a huge disparity in quality in order to put SARFT in an embarrassing situation. This was definitely the display of a cheap person who could not be beaten into being upright.
So for a long time, SARFT did not like Xu Musen. Any film directed by Xu Musen was difficult to pass when it was reviewed in the mainland. And even if it was passed with difficulty, it was not possible to schedule a good slot. And this went on for several years. Up to the mainland film market developing, and the Hong Kong film market completely declining.
To be honest, Xu Musen changed the reworked script that way, partly because he was really angry. He wanted the guys at SARFT to see what the script revised according to their review requirements would be like. He wanted to slap face secretly. But other than that, Xu Musen didn’t understand the SARFT way at all, and he didn’t understand how the so-called political correctness was the root cause.
You ask a Hong Kong screenwriter who grew up in Hong Kong and studied in Hong Kong to revise a classic work that echoes the mainstream of the mainland. This difficulty factor was much higher than the difficulty coefficient of simply asking a Hong Kong screenwriter to create a classic work.
So Xu Musen was pissed off, but he also truly didn’t understand. In the end, it was not all Xu Musen and the screenwriter’s fault.
But Tao Mu was different. In the previous and present life, Tao Mu had seen so many classic works that echo the mainstream theme. To use a common saying to describe, even if you have never seen a pig run, you have eaten pork. After personally producing a Second Sino-Japanese war drama with the mainstream theme, and following a professional screenwriting team to enrich a military drama script with the mainstream theme, Tao Mu also had a little idea on how to revise the script of “Black and White”.
For the sake of the integrity of the script and the depth of the characters, Tao Mu felt that even if the villain was to be subdued in the end, it must not be a change that was difficult to digest, such as “being moved”. Instead, they could delve in on the male lead played by Yan Sheng and the plot point in which Zhou Yuanting slept with the mafia boss’s mistress.
“We can revise like this…..” Tao Mu was silent for a moment, organizing his thoughts, and said slowly: “Change it to after Yan Sheng realize that Zhou Yuanting had gone dark, in order to provoke the relationship between Zhou Yuanting and the boss, he deliberately revealed the news that Zhou Yuanting slept with his mistress. The boss had a grudge against Zhou Yuanting, but he relied heavily on Zhou Yuanting’s ability, so he did not make a move. But he secretly planned to put all the charges on Zhou Yuanting’s head when he escaped and have Zhou Yuanting be the scapegoat. Zhou Yuanting found out the boss’s plan but did not expose it. Instead, he also planned to secretly make use of the boss’s to kill the boss. As a result, due to this infighting, the police led by Yan Sheng profited and the two big villains were wiped out.”
Tao Mu paused and said, “I’m not a professional screenwriter either. I’m only giving a suggestion. How to change it depends on the screenwriter’s opinion. If Director Xu is worried, I can also ask people from my screenwriting team to take a look. It is the screenwriter who modified the script of “The Great Wall of Flesh and Blood” before. Although the Second Sino-Japanese war genre is not the same as the cop vs. crook genre, some core aspects should be common. You can sit down together and discuss it slowly.”
As long as they decided on a solution, he could take the revised script to go to the SARFT review first. While waiting for the SARFT review, the “Black and White” crew could immediately prepare for shooting. They could also take advantage of the time difference, and bring the news of SARFT’s attutude to negotiate with the mainland theaters to finalize the film release schedule first.
Xu Musen was anxious and angry at being blocked by SARFT, and truly had no clue what to do. Hearing Tao Mu’s thoughtful suggestion, he was immediately overjoyed. He didn’t take advantage of Tao Mu, and said directly: “I listen to you. Come to Hong Kong as soon as possible, and we will first finalize the dividends you will have as the producer of the film in the mainland. The rest will be handled by you.”
Tao Mu said: “These are all easy to handle. But one thing is, when we bring the script to SARFT, we have to sit for a meal…..”
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Tao Mu didn’t speak further, but Xu Musen understood and immediately said, “I have to make amends with alcohol, right? Ai!”
Xu Musen sighed and said with a self-deprecating tone: “To tell you the truth, my buddy, I’m really struggling. As long as the review can be resolved as soon as possible and “Back and White” can be released in the mainland as scheduled. I am willing to drink until my stomach bleeds.”
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