Although face-to-face events starring film professionals have become increasingly popular, they have rarely been studied, especially from the perspective of production. Focusing on the phenomenon of Chinese movie roadshows, this study explores the motivations and techniques used to produce popular media events in the Chinese film industry. Based on expert interviews with 15 media practitioners, the results showed that roadshows are staged as ritualized events that are centered on the performance of a symbolic boundary between “inside” and “outside” the media. Film industry professionals embrace face-to-face communication with audiences and use such events to display sincerity, producing them as a seemingly “unmediated” peek behind the veil of an otherwise hidden world. Moreover, communication on social media is another form of ritualized practice. We conclude that, by thus mediating the “unmediated,” movie roadshows offer an insightful perspective on the machinery of media power in China.

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Keywords celebrity, China’s film industry, face-to-face event, media ritual, movie roadshow, symbolic boundary
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Journal Chinese Journal of Communication
Xu, M, Reijnders, S.L, & Kim, S. (2019). Inside the movie roadshow: a critical approach to media events in China. Chinese Journal of Communication. doi:10.1080/17544750.2019.1653341