China downloaders seeking Hong Kong-set Ten Years get 10 Years, Hollywood rom-com, instead

Channing Tatum film about a high-school reunion mistaken for dystopian movie about Hong Kong in 2025, interest in which spiked after it won the best picture prize at Hong Kong Film Awards

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 11:08am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 11:19am

Film fans in China hoping to watch controversial Hong Kong movie Ten Years have apparently given a little-known US rom-com with the same title an unintentional boost as they mistakenly downloaded it instead.

The bleak portrayal of a future Hong Kong, which has riled China and won the best picture prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards on April 3, is the polar opposite of the other Ten Years – a 2011 school reunion movie starring Hollywood’s Channing Tatum.

It tells the tale of high-school classmates who meet again 10 years on, a far cry from the Hong Kong film, which envisions the city’s streets in 2025 patrolled by children dressed in military uniforms, the erosion of Cantonese and self-immolation becoming a mode of protest.

More Ten Years fallout: Hong Kong movie producer threatens awards boycott unless voting is changed

The US film rose to the top rankings on popular Chinese movie download site zimuzu.tv after interest in the Hong Kong movie intensified following its weekend award success.

“I thought it was the Ten Years that won the best picture at the Hong Kong Film Awards,” a user on zimuzu.tv wrote, according to Hong Kong forum HKGolden, which listed comments taken from the site.

The comments page on zimuzu.tv for the US film is now closed.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the American film was at number two in the rankings – local media had screenshots of it earlier ranking number one.

Chinese interest comes despite a media blackout: major Chinese broadcasters pulled their showings of the awards ceremony, with the nomination of Ten Years widely believed to be the reason.

The film’s directors have also said they believe political pressure was behind the difficulty in getting it shown in Hong Kong cinemas, where it received a short run despite full houses.

Ten Years: Hong Kong film that beat Star Wars at the box office, and the directors behind it

Hong Kong’s freedoms are protected by the “one country, two systems” formula agreed with Britain when the city was handed back to China in 1997 which guarantees its semi-autonomous status, but there is growing anxiety that Beijing is tightening its grip.

Ten Years taps into those fears, with some audience members moved to tears over its take on the city’s future.