Film Executive’s Death Shocks China’s Entertainment Industry

Huang Wei, 52, was the vice president of Bona Film Group, one of the country’s largest movie production and distribution companies.

China’s film fraternity is mourning the sudden death of Huang Wei, a top executive at a domestic movie studio. He passed away Wednesday at the age of 52.

Huang, the vice president of Bona Film Group, died early Wednesday morning, his company said in a statement, without elaborating on the circumstances. Police in Beijing said they had ruled out murder as the cause of death.

Some media reports suggest that Huang killed himself. Sixth Tone was unable to independently verify the cause of death, but The Beijing News reported that Huang had fallen from a building in the capital’s Chaoyang District, citing sources familiar with the matter.

There has also been speculation that Huang’s death is connected to the economic downturn still affecting China’s entertainment industry, as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bona Film Group is one of China’s largest and most successful film companies, producing many of the country’s top-grossing movies. It co-produced last year’s Oscar-nominated blockbuster “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Huang’s death and the discussion surrounding it come at a time when film and television productions have been ground to a halt by the pandemic. Movie theaters, meanwhile, have been closed for months to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

According to China’s National Film Bureau, the pandemic could cost an estimated 30 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) in box office losses — or nearly half of the previous year’s total revenue.

Several Chinese movie studios have reported significant losses in recent months. Wanda Film, one of the country’s leading production and distribution companies, estimated its first-quarter losses to be between 550 million and 650 million yuan. Another studio, Huayi Brothers, said it had lost around 140 million yuan over the same three-month period, according to media reports citing both companies’ quarterly earnings reports. Continue to read the full article here


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.