The development and growth of ‘Net Movie’ industry in China is one of the most remarkable themes related to Chinese film industry. ‘Net Movie (Aka. Movie Based on Internet Network, 網絡電影)’ refers to a movie produced for the purpose of playing through the Internet network. The ‘Net Movie’ in China made its rudimentary appearance in 2010, and ‘Wei Dianying (Aka. Micro Film, 微電影)’ was the most representative name for Chinese net movies during this period. In general, ‘Wei Dianying’ has a short running time of approximately 5-50 minutes. It is produced through business sponsorship for promotional reasons or by individuals for simple entertaining purposes. ‘Wei Dianying’ was not easy to make profit from playing, so it was common to be created by non-professional film manpower at a low cost, except when requested by a company.
In 2014, iQIYI, China’s representative video platform, started a net movie business called ‘Wangluo Dadianying (Aka, Network Big Movie, 網絡大電影)’. Initially, the conditions of ‘Wangluo Dadianying’ were that the running time would be more than an hour, and even if the production cost was low, it would have a complete story structure. What makes ‘Wangluo Dadianying’ different from the existing ‘Net Movie’ is that it has a structure of commercial profits, that is, it collects profits by executing pay-per-view on Internet video sites. In the early days of the establishment, ‘Wangluo Dadianying’ achieved considerable success as giving the viewers a different level of satisfaction that the existing films could not provide despite the low production cost and low completion, and had grown rapidly until 2016. However, the problems such as low-quality cheap entertainment and speculative acts for profit pursuit were also exposed, which caused a lot of criticism.
After the explosive growth in 2016, the supervision and management of Chinese government authorities have been strengthened, and ‘Wangluo Dadianying’ has started to approach toward well-made movies in quality. As the company’s business scale and environment has become better than before, professional film workers and organizations entered the business of ‘Wangluo Dadianying’ in 2017. Since then, the industry clearly has improved. Meanwhile, Chinese government authorities have been strengthening the management and supervision of the Net movie industry in order to further develop the industry represented by ‘Wangluo Dadianying’. In 2019, the name ‘Wangluo Dadianying’ was replaced by ‘Wangluo Dianying’, and the related businesses attempted to achieve the ‘Quality Improvement through Reducing Production’.
As the internet has become an integral part of film consumption, Net Movie industry has grown dramatically. In understanding its importance for the development of film industry, the Chinese government has been paying particular attention to Net Movie. Therefore, the Net Movie market and industry are expected to flourish both in quantity and quality.