Chinese film heroes drink Moutai, not Vesper Martinis

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Wu Jing plays a Chinese hero who drinks Moutai in Wolf Warriors 2, while Daniel Craig, as James Bond, drinks a Vesper Martini in Casino Royale. Photos: Wolf Warriors 2, MGM/Columbia Pictures

The success of Wolf Warriors 2, China’s biggest movie hit this summer in terms of box-office receipts, has heated up not just nationalistic spirit but also the stock price of a Chinese spirits maker, Kweichow Moutai.

The Shanghai-listed company, which produces China’s most widely consumed liquor baijiu, has seen its share price surge to a record 500 yuan (US$75), thanks in part to the hit film.

The share surge came after the release of an open letter from Moutai president Yuan Renguo and general manager Li Bafang to thank director and actor Wu Jing for mentioning the brand four times in the film for a total screen time of one minute.

“Your free placement of Moutai, the national liquor, in the movie has once more allowed this famous Chinese brand to impress the world,” they wrote.

The movie also had scenes showing a vehicle made by Beijing Benz, a joint venture between BAIC Motor and Daimler AG.

While some may believe that Wu generated huge advertising revenue by inserting Moutai products into the movie, he told media that he had actually shown the two “Made in China” products for free. He said he just wanted to promote Chinese goods.

As expected, his “generous” moves won applause from nationalistic fans, especially at a time when Chinese milk-product makers have paid a lot of money to show their products in Hollywood movies.

However, Wu may be just trying to remain politically correct. If the Chinese hero he portrayed in the movie had been drinking Western spirits such as Vesper Martinis like James Bond, Wu would definitely be in great trouble amid Chinese fans’ nationalistic sentiments.

Simply put, Chinese heroes must have nationalistic “spirits” (psychologically and physically).

Patriotic education activity

Wolf Warriors 2, with a box-office take of 4.5 billion yuan after 18 days in the cinemas, tells the story of how a former People’s Liberation Army soldier protects Chinese citizens in an African riot. The movie, which has beaten the global box-office receipts of Spiderman: Homecoming, has become a national sensation and defined the new Chinese nationalism. It it is not being shown in Hong Kong.

Read: Wolf Warriors 2: A hit defining the new Chinese nationalism

To return the favor, Moutai took its 30,000 employees to watch the movie as a “patriotic education” activity, and asked them to write reviews of the film.

The Moutai letter stated: “Wolf Warriors 2 not only arouses their patriotic enthusiasm but also greatly enhances the employees’ sense of honor and pride, enhancing the cohesion and centripetal force of Moutai group through the Moutai shots.”

Moutai was a stock-market darling before President Xi Jinping launched his campaign against government extravagance in 2013. Three years after the clampdown, the liquor maker has started to come back, with production approaching the original level.

Moutai has a market capitalization of 627.8 billion yuan after an 11- consecutive-month rally since last year. The stock is up 60% year-to-date, making it the most expensive Chinese stock in terms of its market price.

Moutai is not the only stock that benefited from Wolf 2. Beijing Jingxi Tourism Development, which distributed the film, has seen its shares go up by some 50% since the movie’s first showing. The Beijing-based company guaranteed a minimum box-office take of 800 million yuan in exchange for a better commission cut, which analysts estimated to be around 100 million yuan.

Wolf 2 is expected to hit $800 million in receipts by the end of summer, which will replace Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as No 65 in the top 100 movies of all time in terms of box-office take.

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