There are two factors which allow great storytellers to continue their path; making great art and staying financially viable enough to continue this process. Regardless of the medium, greatness is achieved when both sides work in unison. Sequels and franchises are not only for Hollywood’s superhero blockbusters. All around the world, film communities aspire to the positive creative and financial dividends of a film series “with legs.” Within the Chinese entertainment industry, Beijing RuYi Xinxin Film Investment found this with the hugely successful So Young and its sequel So Young 2: Never Gone. The producer steering this series from the very beginning was Bohan Gong. With these hit films, Bohan not only ensured the filmmakers vision was achieved but also heightened Beijing RuYi Xinxin Film Investment as the leader in the market. Known for his insight and highly detailed eye, this producer was perfectly placed to deliver two of the biggest hit films of the recent Chinese era.
So Young (2103) was by every measure a huge hit film. It garnered forty-three nominations and multiple award from the Golden Horse Film Festival (Hong Kong’s Academy Awards), the Golden Rooster Awards, Huabiao Film Awards, and Hundred Flowers Awards. With a production budget of five million, the film grossed over $180 million at the box office, taking third in Chinese box office history (2013) and surpassing Hollywood blockbusters like Fast & Furious 6, Pacific Rim, and 007: Skyfall. Three years later, the follow-up titled So Young 2: Never Gone would again deliver a huge box office (more than $50 million) along with nominations and awards from premier events like the Shanghai International Film Festival.
The first film in the series not only marked the film depiction of the novel “To Our Youth that is Fading Away” by Xin Yiwu but also the directorial debut of Zhao Wei. A number of China’s most popular young actors (Mark Chao, Han Geng, Yang Zishan, Jiang Shuying) star in this bitter sweet tale of love, life, and friendship. Convincing the author of the series to trust the filmmakers with his creation was perhaps the most monumental achievement of the production. Bohan persuaded Xin to transfer the movie adaption copyright and then, along with Producer Ke Liming (Ruyi Xinxin Films CEO), producer/screenwriter Zhou Tuoru to adapt the story for film. Proving that a producer’s role is one of constant motion, Bohan secured financial backing from multiple investors once the script and director were in place. While So Young 2: Never Gone had the benefit of the pervious film’s hit status, the first film required an ample amount of coaxing and negotiating in order to obtain funds. While everyone wants to be a part of a “winner” fewer are ready to take the risk on an unproven film. With cast, crew, and location in place, this producer trusted the professionals he hired to create while he oversaw less glamorous facets as cash flow, safety factors, and the like.
Unless you’ve actually worked in the film industry, it’s difficult to comprehend the series of events which must be executed with exceptional ability in order for a film to reach the kind of success which these films experienced. Even with greatness on the part of all involved parties, a film isn’t a success if enough people don’t see it. In a stoke of ingenuity and genius, Bohan made the decision to use Weibo (a microblogging site which is one of the biggest social media platforms in China; whose 1.386 billion population dwarfs the US’s 327.2 million) as a promotional tool for So Young. So Young is the first film in China which used a lot of resources to promote film publicity work on Weibo platform. What’s so striking about this is that it was an unproven concept at the time. Upon researching the trends of the young demographic which the film hoped to attract, Bohan’s instincts told him this was the smart move; creating a buzz that would carry it far online. So Young received a 350 million Yuan box office in the first week, almost is half of entire Box Office. This data directly overwhelmingly validates the publicity work which brought audiences to the theaters. The Weibo publicity was an obvious success and became one of the most key factors in So Young gaining commercially success.
Liming Ke (CEO of Beijing Ruyi Xinxin Film Investment) declares, “It’s impossible to overstate Bohan’s contributions to Ruyi Xinxin. The Chinese film series So Young and So Young II is one of the most commercially and critically lauded in recent history, expanding our fame in the industry as a leader. It was Bohan’s guidance of these films which enabled this and makes our success story inseparable from his own. He has the vision and talent that enables true artists to create and share with a huge audience.” Liming’s praise seeks to reinforce the fact that a producer like Bohan Gong is relatively unknown to the public but a hugely important presence to those in the industry. His productions are seen at the most prestigious events in film such as the Hong Kong Film Awards, Chinese American Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Awards, London Independent Film Festival, and many more. His influence and that of his work exceeds borders…because great films have no borders.