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iQIYI’s 'Mist Theater': Suspense Thrillers Dramas Library Went Global

Many Chinese streaming content have often been ridiculed for romance with cheesy storylines that draw out the quality of content. However, a new trend of genre-specific content with compact plots and high production values have emerged. With far shorter episodes and more targeted content offerings, the leading streamer highlighted so-called content libraries (known as “theaters”) dedicated to meet audience specific demands.

(Photo Source: iQIYI's 2020 ‘Mist Theater' Poster, iQIYI)

iQIYI launched its highly-acclaimed 2020 ‘Mist Theater’, a content library of short suspense thrillers dramas, making it the first streaming platform to adopt a theater-like category for online dramas. To date, iQIYI has released five high-quality short suspense dramas under the Mist Theater banner, comprising “Kidnapping Game”, “The Bad Kids”, “Crimson River”, “Sisyphus” and “The Long Night”, generated over 460 trending topics on Chinese social media platforms and scored an average rating of 8 out of 10 for the five dramas on Douban, an equivalent of rotten tomatoes.

(Photo Source: 6 Suspense-focused Series in ‘Mist Theater' , iQIYI)

To date, Mist Theater has been distributed to such overseas markets as Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as Hong Kong and Macao; and distribution rights of multiple dramas under Mist Theater have been sold into Japan. While “The Long Night“ was purchased by NHK, the most acclaimed hit suspense “The Bad Kids” was acquired by WOWOW, Japan’s leading premium satellite television station, to be released in early 2021.

Meanwhile, iQIYI has sealed the deal with TV networks in South Korea and Australia to broadcast the suspense thriller The Bad Kids. The series aired on Channel A in South Korea in December. It is also scheduled to air on SBS Viceland, an Australian free-to-air TV network, and SBS On Demand in 2021.

Youku, another leading video platform, has also established a suspense theater, with the sci-fi mystery hybrid “Missing Persons” as its debut offering, and other namely urban suspense series “Goodbye My Love,” and miniseries "Girls That Summer".

(Photo Source: Youku‘s 'Suspense Theater', Youku)

As Mist Theater went global and became more widely received in overseas markets, it is quickly transforming perceptions of original Chinese content and further increasing their influence. This genre-specific attempt set a milestone for Chinese suspense thrillers stories as they travel into new overseas markets and for Chinese media companies to explore more global distribution.