Undoubtedly one of the most influential film personalities in China, Zhang Jizhong is perhaps China’s most well known TV series producer and a recognizable entertainment celebrity in China. Over the past three decades, Zhang Jizhong has several commercially successful, critically acclaimed credits to his name as a producer, which have grossed over RMB1 billion worldwide.
With his unique understanding of Chinese culture, works produced by Zhang Jizhong stand out for their epic story-telling structure, large-scale battle scenes, martial arts, romance, and artistic elements. His trademark production formula represents both cultural transmission and strong financial returns. This formula’s success has made Zhang Jizhong one of the most sought after producers in China.
Zhang Jizhong was born in Beijing, China in 1951 and endured many hardships in his early life because of his family’s political status. In 1978, he joined the Shanxi drama theatre group and become a stage actor. He later moved on to acting in movies and TV series before becoming a full-time producer.
Zhang Jizhong’s first major production, China Central Television’s (CCTV) award winning historical epic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, made him the most sought after TV producer in China because of his ability to recreate historical war scenes with large scale sets and thousands of extras. Romance of the Three Kingdoms was followed by Water Margin in 1997, another large scale adaptation of one of the Four Great Classical Novels of China. The series was very successful commercially and a recipient of critical acclaim.
Over the past ten years, Zhang Jizhong has produced several big budget TV series adaptations of Louis Cha’s wuxia novels, which have attained commercial success in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other Asian countries. His wuxia TV productions are also known for launching the careers of several top Chinese film stars, including Liu Yifei, Huang Xiaoming, Hu Jun and Zhou Xun.
Zhang Jizhong has built eleven large scale movie cities in China, which were funded by the local government and later became tourist attractions, which developed the local economy from the benefits of tourism revenue and infrastructure, as well as saved millions of dollars of production costs. The Peach Flower Island Arching film city in Zhejiang and the Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils film city in Yunnan province are two examples of success stories, and are now major tourist destinations in China.