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“人民的文学”:中国网络文学IP创造财富神话

更新时间:2016-11-1 10:22:18 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Craving a Hot TV Show in China? Start Scouring the Web
“人民的文学”:中国网络文学IP创造财富神话

BEIJING — “The Journey of Flower” is a novel that has never been sold in bookstores. It was first published on a literature website in 2009, but its story, a martial arts fantasy, is now one of China’s most successful brands.

北京——《花千骨》是一部从来没有在书店销售过的小说。它最早于2009年发布在一个文学网站上,但这个武侠玄幻故事现在是中国最成功的品牌之一。

Since the rights to the novel were sold about four years ago, the tale — about a god and goddess fated to kill each other and who fall in love in the afterlife — has been spun off into a franchise that includes a video game, a coming movie and a hit television series that has become the first drama in China to pass 20 billion views online.

自小说版权在四年前售出之后,这个有关一位男神和一位女神命中注定相互残杀、来生又坠入爱河的故事,已经衍生出一系列周边产品,其中包括一款电子游戏、一部即将上映的电影,以及首部在中国突破200亿在线观看次数的热门电视剧。

The journey of that novel, from obscurity to mainstream cultural status, resembles one that many internet-only creations are now taking here as a voracious appetite for intellectual property has sent producers foraging on the web.

随着对知识产权的巨大需求促使制片人在网络上展开搜寻,这部小说像许多之前只在网络上存在的作品一样,从默默无闻到逐渐获得主流文化地位。

“IP” — intellectual property, or original copyrighted material that can be bought and adapted for other formats — is one of the hottest buzzwords in China. As the country’s fast-growing film, television and video game industries vie for audiences, entertainment companies in search of quality homegrown content are snapping up IPs left and right.

“IP”——知识产权,或说可以购买或被改编成其他形式的原创版权内容——是中国最热门的流行词汇之一。随着中国快速增长的影视和电子游戏行业对观众展开争夺,寻找高品质本土内容的娱乐公司开始四处抢购IP。

To find good ones, executives turn to the usual sources: books, existing films and comics. But increasingly, they are mining a once-secluded corner of the internet that has become a booming billion-dollar business: a flourishing online literary world that bypasses ink and paper entirely to grab readers by their smartphones, with subjects like tomb raiding, science fiction, fantasy, romance and martial arts.

为寻找好的IP,娱乐公司高管们会诉诸于常见的来源:书籍、现有的电影和漫画作品。但他们也越来越多地挖掘互联网上一个曾经不太被注意的角落,这里已经成为一个价值数十亿美元的火爆市场:蒸蒸日上的网络文学世界。它完全省略了书籍印刷制作的过程,以盗墓、科幻、玄幻、爱情和武侠等题材在手机上捕获读者。

“Online literature in China is full of good story lines and IPs,” said Jiang Chenzhou, 30, the author of “The Journey of Flower,” who is better known to online readers by her web name, Fresh Guoguo. “On the internet, you have space for creativity. There is more room for expression, fewer restrictions and less pressure.

“中国网络文学里有不少好故事和IP,”小说《花千骨》的作者、30岁的江晨舟说,她更为人熟知的是网名“Fresh果果”。“在网上,你有创作的空间。有更多表达的空间,限制更少,压力也更少。”

“When I finished the novel in 2009, the market for content was just starting to heat up. Two years later, producers began reaching out, asking what I thought about adapting the story. Now everyone is talking about IPs.”

“我2009年完成这部小说的时候,内容市场才刚刚开始升温。两年后,制作人已经开始四处搜寻,询问我对改编这个故事的看法。现在所有人都在谈论IP。”

To entertainment executives, online-literature websites, some with libraries of hundreds of thousands of titles, offer a trove of market-tested characters and plots incubated in a relatively censor-free environment.

对娱乐企业的高管来说,网络文学网站——有些手握几十万部作品版权——提供了大量在审查相对宽松的环境中创作出来的、经过市场检验的角色和故事情节。

“The whole entertainment industry is still fairly conservative,” said Chen Ming, head of products at Shanda Games and a former editor at Qidian, one of the largest online-literature sites. “Creating your own original fantasy content is not a sure bet. But the market has already shown that adapting popular IPs from online literature can make a lot of money.”

“整个娱乐行业的环境依然十分保守,”盛大游戏公司的产品主管陈明(音)说。此人之前曾在中国最大的网络文学网站之一起点中文网担任编辑。“创作自己原创的玄幻内容不一定就能保证成功。但市场已经显示,改编受欢迎的网络文学IP可以赚很多钱。”

Ma Zhongjun, chief executive of Ciwen Media, which produced last year’s television adaptation of “The Journey of Flower,” summed up the business logic: “You are spending money to buy safety. Americans are the best at this. That’s why they keep making sequels.”

去年将《花千骨》改编成电视剧的慈文传媒首席执行官马中骏对其中的商业逻辑进行了总结:“你在花钱买可以稳赚的东西。美国人最擅长这个。那是他们不断拍续集的原因。”

Two of the highest-grossing films in China in the past year were based on popular online novels about raiding tombs. One of them, “Mojin: The Lost Legend,” based on Tian Xia Ba Chang’s “Ghost Blows Out the Light,” earned $250 million after its release in December 2015, making it the fifth-highest-grossing movie ever in China, according to the Ent Group, which monitors box-office sales.

去年中国票房最高的两部电影都是由盗墓题材的网络小说改编。其中,由天下霸唱的《鬼吹灯》改编的《寻龙诀》在2015年12月上映后,获得了2.5亿美元的票房。据监测票房数据的艺恩网统计,该片成为中国有史以来票房第五高的影片。

Some 297 million people — 43 percent of China’s internet user base — read web literature last year, making it among the top 10 reasons that Chinese went to the internet last year, according to a government report.

政府发布的一份报告显示,去年中国有大约2.97亿人——占中国网民的43%——阅读网络文学作品,它因此成为中国人上网的十大原因之首。

That popularity has been partly a response to China’s traditionally staid publishing industry, which is straitjacketed by prepublication censorship and strict regulations on the distribution of the book identifiers known as International Standard Book Numbers, or ISBNs.

这种受欢迎程度有一部分是对历来比较古板的中国出版业做出的反应,后者受到出版前的审查制度和名为国际标准书号(Standard Book Numbers,简称ISBN)的书号分发制度的严格限制。

Websites in China, by contrast, offer a freewheeling space where writers can publish the kind of genre fiction that is not only comparatively rare in the book business but also has been subject to little interference from editors.

相比之下,中国的网站提供了无拘无束的空间。在那里,作者不仅可以发布在图书行业属于比较罕见类型的小说,而且很少受到编辑的干涉。

Creating this content is often an interactive process that involves readers. Writers can see their comments and sometimes respond to them.

创作这类内容往往是一个与读者互动的过程。作者可以看到他们的评论,有时会做出回应。

“Online literature is really the people’s literature,” Mr. Ma said. “There are very few commercial elements involved in the writing process, so this body of literature tends to be very pure.”

“网络文学真的是人民的文学,”马中骏说。“写作过程中牵涉的商业因素很少,所以这种文学往往非常纯粹。”

The growing focus in China on selling intellectual property to entertainment companies is a shift away from the online-literature industry’s previous business model. Big companies like Shanda Cloudary (which merged last year with Tencent Literature to become the dominant market player, Yuewen Group) once focused on promoting amateur writers by negotiating book deals with print publishers and collecting subscription fees from readers.

将知识产权出售给娱乐公司日益成为关注的重点,这与网络文学行业之前的商业模式已经有所不同。盛大文学等大公司(去年与腾讯文学合并为阅文集团,成为占主导地位的市场力量)以前主要将注意力放在推广业余作者上,方式是和传统出版商谈出版合约,以及向读者征收订阅费。

In a fortunate coincidence, the growth in income from intellectual property sales has helped offset revenue lost through piracy, which remains a significant problem for China’s web-publishing platforms.

因为一种幸运的巧合,来自知识产权销售的收入增长帮助抵消了盗版问题带来的收入损失。后者依然是中国网络出版平台面临的一个重要问题。

Writers have also profited. Ms. Jiang estimates she has earned $1.5 million from the sale of various rights to “The Journey of Flower.” Last year, Zhang Wei, also known as Tang Jia San Shao, earned $16.8 million, making him the wealthiest web writer in China, according to the newspaper China Daily.

作者也因此获利。据江晨舟估计,她已经从《花千骨》的各种版权收入销售中获得了150万美元。据《中国日报》报道,去年张威——也称唐家三少——获得了1680万美元的收入,成为中国收入最高的网络作家。

Mr. Zhang said most of his income now comes from selling his properties to various media and from sales of print copies of his fantasy-themed online novels. Mr. Zhang, 35, who by his own count has written more than 160 books, said that one of his properties sold for $3 million.

35岁的张威表示,现在他的收入大多来自向各种媒介出售版权,以及他的玄幻题材网络小说的实体书销售。据张威自己统计,他已经写了160多本书。他表示,其中一项版权卖了300万美元。

Though he has already earned a fortune, Mr. Zhang said his ultimate goal was to create a franchise like the Walt Disney Company.

尽管他已经赚到了大笔财富,但张威表示他的最终目标是打造一个类似迪士尼公司的特许经营品牌。

“Disney has a lot of characters whose popularity is reinforced through movies and cartoons,” he said, after offering that he had published something online every day for the past 12 years. “I am looking for a partner company who can take all of my IPs and replicate this model.”

“迪士尼有很多角色,它们的受欢迎程度通过电影和动画片的播放得到加强,”他说。此前他表示在过去的12年里,他每天都坚持在网上发点东西。“我在寻找一个可以收走我所有的IP,然后复制这一模式的合作公司。”

Of course, not every popular online novel translates into a popular adaptation. And censorship remains a concern. Over the years, the government has sought greater regulations on online literature, calling on publishing platforms to increase monitoring.

当然,不是所有受欢迎的网络小说都能变成受欢迎的改编作品。审查问题依然是一个顾虑。多年来,政府一直在寻求对网络文学施加更严格的管控,要求发布平台加强监测。

Still, online literature remains a more lenient environment, something that dawned on Ms. Jiang a she talked with potential production partners about adapting “The Journey of Flower.”

不过,网络文学依然是个相对比较宽松的环境。在与潜在制作伙伴谈论《花千骨》的改编时,江晨舟才开始意识到这一点。

“At first, a lot of companies were reluctant to take on the story,” she said, “because they said it wouldn’t pass the censorship process.

“一开始,很多公司不愿接这个故事,”她说,“因为他们觉得它通不过审查。”

“But when I write characters, I create evil people who are actually good and good people who are actually bad, because I believe humanity is complicated. But that complexity is not suitable for television.”

“但是在创作人物的时候,我创造了实际上比较好的坏人和实际上有点坏的好人,因为我觉得人性是复杂的。但这种复杂性不适合电视屏幕。”

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