The Empress of China

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The Empress of China
武媚娘傳奇
The Empress of China (武媚娘傳奇).jpg
The Empress of China (China) official poster
Also known as Wu Ze Tian
Traditional
Simplified
Genre Historical fiction
Directed by Go Yik Chun
Starring Fan Bingbing
Zhang Fengyi
Aarif Rahman
Janine Chang
Opening theme

China and Taiwan:
Thousands of Years by Sun Nan

Hong Kong:
The Empress by Joey Yung
Country of origin China
Original language(s) Mandarin
No. of episodes Original version: 82
Hunan TV: 96
TVB: 75
Production
Executive producer(s) Wu Hongliang
Meng Qinghan
Li Zhao
Producer(s) Fan Bingbing
Production location(s) Mainland China
Hengdian World Studios
CCTV Wuxi Film & TV Base
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 40min~50min
Production company(s) Fan Bingbing Studio
China Film Group Corporation
Zhejiang Talent Television & Film
Evergrande Film Co.
Duzhe Publishing Media Co.
Release
Original network Hunan Television
Picture format DTMB1080i
Audio format stereo
Original release 21 December 2014 (2014-12-21) – 3 February 2015 (2015-02-03)
External links
Official Weibo page
Production website
The Empress of China
Chinese name (in mainland China and Taiwan)
Traditional Chinese 武媚娘傳奇
Simplified Chinese 武媚娘传奇
Hanyu Pinyin Wǔ Mèiniáng chuánqí
Cantonese Yale Móuh Mèihnèuhng chyùhnkèih
Chinese name (in Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia)
Traditional Chinese 武則天
Simplified Chinese 武则天
Hanyu Pinyin Wǔ Zétiān
Cantonese Yale Móuh Jāktīn

The Empress of China (simplified Chinese: 武媚娘传奇; traditional Chinese: 武媚娘傳奇; pinyin: Wǔ Mèiniáng chuánqí) is a 2014 Chinese television series based on events in 7th and 8th-century Tang dynasty, starring producer Fan Bingbing as the titular character Wu Zetian — the only female emperor (empress regnant) in the Chinese history.

It is the third television production by Fan Bingbing Studio and boasts of a budget of over ¥300 million (roughly US$49.53 million).[1] As such, it is believed to be the among most expensive TV series in Chinese history,[2] beating the previous record of ¥280 million by Heroes in Sui and Tang Dynasties (2013).[3] The television series was first broadcast on Hunan Television on 21 December 2014 in mainland China.

Synopsis[edit]

During Tang Dynasty's 2nd reign, Wu Ruyi (Fan Bingbing) enters the palace at age 14 as an innocent Cairen (Talented Lady) and aspires to serve Emperor Taizong (Zhang Fengyi) as his consort. The Emperor Taizong soon takes notice of her and falls in love with her, inciting many to grow jealous of her. They set out to destroy her numerous times by falsely accusing her of theft, murder and treachery. She survives by her wits and intelligence but is kept at arm's length by Emperor Taizong due to a prophecy foretelling a woman of Wu stealing the Tang Dynasty. When Emperor Taizong dies, she is sent to a monastery to become a nun. However, the Emperor's youngest son Li Zhi (Aarif Rahman), who later becomes the Emperor Gaozong, has been in love with her since he was a child. He brings her back to the palace and makes her his concubine. During her time as a minor consort to Emperor Taizong, she learned how an effective Emperor rules his court. Using that knowledge, she helped Li Zhi take back power from his Regent, and herself into the position of Empress meanwhile revenging her daughter's death. She co-ruled with Li Zhi until his death, after which she ruled the country in her own right.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Supporting[edit]

Emperor Taizong's harem[edit]

Emperor Gaozong's harem[edit]

Royal family[edit]

Ministers and generals[edit]

Servants[edit]

  • Shen Baoping as Wang De, Emperor Taizong's personal attendant
  • He Xin as Chengxin, Crown Prince's companion
  • Wang Zhen as Chun Ying, Consort Wei's personal attendant
  • Chen Si Si as Qing Shun, Consort Yang's personal attendant
  • Tu Liman as Liu Siyao, Consort De's personal attendant
  • Wang Yanan as Wen Niang, Xu Hui's personal attendant
  • Gao Yuan as Rui An

Other[edit]

Production[edit]

Zhejiang Talent Television & Film, China Film Group Corporation, Evergrande Film Co., Duzhe Publishing Media Co., Jilin Television, and Guangxi Television co-financed the TV series.

A project-starting press conference held on December 28, 2012. Then, the director was Liu Jiang,[4] who quit the project later due to a busy schedule.

The official character posters were released on February 12, 2014. The release of the photos was a gift sent by the crew to the TV audience for the Chinese New Year. Fan said the role was one she had always dreamed of playing and every generation had different interpretations and she hope she could interpret the character in her own way.[1]

Filming began on December 28, 2013,[5] and ended on August 16, 2014. Filming locations included Wuxi,[6][7] Hengdian World Studios, Nanjing, and Shaoxing.[8]

A broadcast press conference was held in Beijing on December 18, 2014.[9] The TV series has more than 260 sets of clothing for Fan Bingbing and more than 3,000 sets of clothing for the whole crew, with the most expensive piece being the dragon robe at over 500,000 CNY. Wu Hongliang, one of the producers, said the crew had more than 600 people, shooting lasted for almost 10 months, and several writers worked on the script for three years.[10]

The series' Chinese name was initially Wu Zetian, and then renamed to The Legend of Wu Zetian. Just two days before the broadcasting date, it was renamed again as The Legend of Wu Meiniang. This was required by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT).

Soundtrack[edit]

The series' musical score was composed by Dong Dongdong, who previously wrote the music to No Man's Land and Beijing Love Story. At the first, the production company intended to invite musicians from Korea, Japan and China mainland, but the idea was changed due to China's censorship policy on TV series changing. Initially, one TV series could broadcast on four satellite channels, but in 2015 it was revised to allow broadcasting on two satellite channels. Considering the cost recovery and the busy post-production schedule, the production company invited the native composer Dong Dongdong.

The opening song was called Qian Qiu (Chinese: 千秋; literally: "For Thousands of Years"), sung by Sun Nan.

The closing theme song was called Wu Zi Bei (Chinese: 无字碑; literally: "Wordless Tablet"), sung by Jane Zhang, lyrics by Vincent Fang, and music by Aarif Rahman. The song premiered during a Sina live stream session on 16 December 2014 and topped the New Song Chart as the most listened song with the view count exceeding 1.37 million.

For TVB's broadcast in Hong Kong, the opening song was called The Empress (Chinese: 女皇), sung by Joey Yung.

China and Taiwan[edit]

No.TitleLyricsMusicSinger(s)Length
1."For Thousands of Years" (千秋)Chen XiDong DongdongSun Nan2:42
2."Wordless Tablet" (無字碑)Vincent FangAarif RahmanJane Zhang3:04
3."Dare To Rule The World" (敢為天下先)Chen XiDong DongdongJane Zhang3:33
4."Heaven" (蒼天)Chris ShumLeon KoJacky Cheung & Evonne Hsu4:04

Hong Kong[edit]

No.TitleLyricsMusicSinger(s)Length
1."The Empress" (女皇)Hayes YeungAlan CheungJoey Yung3:32
2."The Secret of Tears" (眼淚的秘密)Sandy ChangAlan CheungJinny Ng3:35
3."No Matter What It Takes" (不顧一切)Sandy ChangDamon Chui & Johnny YimLinda Chung4:13

Broadcast[edit]

The Empress of China began airing from December 21, 2014 exclusively on Hunan Television in mainland China, and has also been broadcast on Chung T'ien Television in Taiwan, TVB in Hong Kong, and Golden Town Film Co., Ltd in Thailand.

Mainland China[edit]

The TV drama was suspended for four days from December 28, 2014 to January 1, 2015. Hunan Television said on its official Sina Weibo account that the TV drama will stop from Sunday on due to 'technical' reasons but will return to the screen on January 1, 2015.[11] However, it was reported that the actual reason for this suspension was because the dresses were 'too exposing', especially in the chest region and the broadcasting authorities demanded the broadcaster edit the TV drama and then submit again for censorship.[12][13][14] The show returned to screens on January 1, 2015, but with edited scenes that removed much of the shots of cleavage area.[15] Wide shots and close-ups were heavily employed to minimize the amount of cleavage.[16] Chinese Internet users responded by complaining about the censorship on Weibo. Several complained that they would not be able to see the hundreds of costume changes by Fan Bingbing.[17] Some reports noted that the Tang Dynasty was one of the greatest dynasties in ancient China, and women were known to wear revealing attire.[14]

Likewise, any scenes showing intimacy or affection between the protagonists were completely cut (like the bath tub or kissing scenes), which makes following the drama's storyline difficult at times.

Taiwan[edit]

Taiwan's CTi TV official poster of The Empress of China.

Taiwan began airing the drama March 30, 2015 on cable channel CTi TV and free-to-air channel CTV. Both stations aired the series in its entirety, un-cut and un-censored.

Hong Kong[edit]

Hong Kong's TVB official poster of The Empress of China.

Hong Kong free-to-air channel TVB Jade began broadcast of the drama on April 26, 2015.[18] Due to the length of the series, the drama was reduced by ten episodes and TVB also changed their broadcast schedule to have the drama air throughout the entire week Sunday to Saturday.[19] In order to avoid the cleavage exposing controversy without zooming-in scenes like the version aired in mainland China, TVB hired CGI experts to add an effect clothing to cover up the cleavage.[20] TVB also aired original audio and a Cantonese dubbed version on their Jade channel.

Reception[edit]

The Empress of China was a commercial success. The show's first episode broke rating records.[11] Despite the re-edits to please SARFT, the viewership ratings of The Empress of China remained at an all-time high.[16] Its final episode achieved a rating of 4%, making it the highest rated drama of the year.

Despite its success, the drama received mixed to negative reviews. The audiences praised the beautiful costume, but complained the slow narrative rhythm[21] and said the plot turns dramatically without foreshadowing, as it's broken and not linked well at all. Some reports noted that the drama was a kind of Mary Sue story,[22][23] and was not a factually accurate account of history. Wu Zetian had several battles with her opponent Zhangsun Wuji in history, but in the drama, Wu Zetian was shaped into an innocent woman.[24]

Mainland China
 Mainland China Hunan TV premiere ratings
Episode Date CSM50 CSM national network
Rating Share Ranking Rating Share Ranking
1-3 December 21, 2014 2.280 6.050 1 2.14 6.13 2
4-6 December 22, 2014 2.396 6.681 1 2.45 7.23 1
7-9 December 23, 2014 2.714 7.774 1 2.65 7.98 1
10-12 December 24, 2014 2.469 6.936 1 2.66 7.69 1
13-15 December 25, 2014 2.678 7.378 1 2.77 8.09 1
16 December 26, 2014 2.429 6.513 1 2.54 6.56 1
17 December 27, 2014 2.546 6.748 1
18-20 January 1, 2015 2.579 6.944 1 2.65 7.27 1
21 January 2, 2015 2.533 6.838 1
22 January 3, 2015 2.400 6.274 1
23-25 January 4, 2015 2.697 7.401 1 2.52 7.33 1
26-28 January 5, 2015 2.722 7.304 1 2.46 7.06 1
29-31 January 6, 2015 2.857 7.712 1 2.57 7.25 1
32-34 January 7, 2015 2.716 7.209 1 2.58 7.26 1
35-37 January 8, 2015 2.849 7.721 1 2.59 7.48 1
38 January 9, 2015 2.443 6.472 1 2.66 7.23 1
39 January 10, 2015 2.830 7.390 1
40-42 January 11, 2015 2.773 7.409 1
43-45 January 12, 2015 2.648 7.235 1 2.67 7.61 1
46-48 January 13, 2015 3.121 8.363 1 2.95 8.28 1
49-51 January 14, 2015 2.780 7.389 1 3.09 8.68 1
52-54 January 15, 2015 2.982 8.070 1 3.15 8.73 1
55 January 16, 2015 2.417 6.424 1 3.14 8.45 1
56 January 17, 2015 3.067 7.952 1
57-59 January 18, 2015 2.983 7.938 1
60-62 January 19, 2015 3.034 8.235 1 3.28 9.20 1
63-65 January 20, 2015 3.062 8.243 1 3.40 9.41 1
66-68 January 21, 2015 3.088 8.282 1 3.33 9.21 1
69-71 January 22, 2015 3.411 8.855 1 3.96 10.69 1
72 January 23, 2015 2.634 6.981 1 3.46 9.36 1
73 January 24, 2015 2.711 7.277 1
74-76 January 25, 2015 3.264 8.420 1
77-79 January 26, 2015 3.378 8.898 1 3.52 9.81 1
80-82 January 27, 2015 3.551 9.273 1 4.00 10.91 1
83-85 January 28, 2015 3.737 9.623 1 4.35 11.85 1
86-88 January 29, 2015 3.515 9.108 1 4.10 11.16 1
89 January 30, 2015 2.657 6.992 1 3.71 9.99 1
90 January 31, 2015 2.434 6.407 1
91-92 February 1, 2015 3.313 8.763 1
93-94 February 2, 2015 4.102 10.901 1 4.64 12.80 1
95-96 February 3, 2015 4.234 11.171 1 5.08 13.68 1
Total average 2.959 7.926 1 in 2014 3.17 8.81 1 in 2014
  1. The data determined by CSM.
  2. Ratings ranked above not including CCTV.
  3. Information source:Kimi_冲克顿传媒数据中心卫视这些事儿卫视小露电青春剧透社
Taiwan
 Taiwan CTV Main Channel premiere ratings (AC Nielsen)
Episode Week Date Rating Ranking
1-5 1 March 30, 2015 - April 3, 2015 1.21 4
6-10 2 April 6, 2015 - April 10, 2015 1.50 4
11-15 3 April 13, 2015 - April 17, 2015 1.64 4
16-20 4 April 20, 2015 - April 24, 2015 1.90 3
21-25 5 April 27, 2015 - May 1, 2015 1.80 3
26-30 6 May 4, 2015 - May 8, 2015 1.91 3
31-35 7 May 11, 2015 - May 15, 2015 1.90 3
36-40 8 May 18, 2015 - May 22, 2015 2.21 3
41-45 9 May 25, 2015 - May 29, 2015 2.27 3
46-50 10 June 1, 2015 - June 5, 2015 2.37 3
51-55 11 June 8, 2015 - June 12, 2015 2.49 3
56-60 12 June 15, 2015 - June 19, 2015 2.38 3
61-65 13 June 22, 2015 - June 26, 2015 2.75 3
66-70 14 June 29, 2015 - July 3, 2015 2.76 3
71-75 15 July 6, 2015 - July 10, 2015 3.16 3
76-80 16 July 13, 2015 - July 17, 2015 2.72 3
81-84 17 July 20, 2015 - July 23, 2015 3.06 3
  1. The data determined by AGB.
  2. Information source:中時娛樂凱絡媒體週報
Hong Kong
 Hong Kong TVB Jade ratings
# Timeslot (HKT) Week Episode(s) Average points Peaking points
1 Sun – Sat 21:30 26 April 2015 1 24 26
2 27 April-3 May 2015 2-8 25 28
3 04-10 May 2015 9-15 26 29
4 11-17 May 2015 16-22 27 28
5 18-22 May 2015 23-28 26 27
6 25-31 May 2015 29-34 26 28
7 01-7 June 2015 35-41 26 29
8 08-14 June 2015 42-48 25 28
9 15-21 June 2015 49-55 26 30
10 22-28 June 2015 56-61 27 32
11 29 June-5 July 2015 62-67 28 32
12 06-12 July 2015 68-75 29 37
Total average 26 30

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Huading Awards Best Actress Fan Bingbing Nominated
Best Actor (Ancient) Aarif Lee Won
Best Supporting Actress Zhang Ting Nominated
Best Producer Fan Bingbing Nominated
Top 10 Dramas Won
China TV Drama Awards Top 10 Television Series Won
Best Actress Fan Bingbing Won

International broadcast[edit]

Region Network Broadcast date Version
 Mainland China Hunan TV December 21, 2014 cut & edited version
ZJSTV January 14, 2015
Henan TV April 1, 2015
Guangxi TV
BTV April 26, 2015
 Republic of China (Taiwan) CTi TV March 30, 2015 original
CTV
ELTA TV April 2, 2015
GTV November 12, 2015
 Hong Kong TVB Jade April 26, 2015 cut, edited & Cantonese dubbed
TVB HD Jade
 Malaysia Astro On Demand April 26, 2015 TVB version, Cantonese dubbed
Astro Wah Lai Toi April 4, 2016
8TV April 21, 2017 TVB version, original audio
 Singapore VV Drama August 12, 2015
 Cambodia CTV8 HD November 11, 2015 TVB version, Khmer dubbed
 South Korea Chunghwa TV March 14, 2016 TVB version, original audio
 Japan Channel Ginga July 18, 2016
 Thailand Channel 3 May 1, 2017 TVB version, Thai dubbed

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Fan Bingbing's Empress Wu Zetian Makeup Released". womenofchina.cn. February 12, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ (in Chinese) 范爷3亿“讨”江山 Archived 2014-08-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ (in Chinese) 《隋唐演义》2.8亿刷新最烧钱电视剧纪录 Archived 2014-08-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ 《武则天》启动 范冰冰与刘江合作. NetEase (in Chinese). 29 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "范冰冰亮相《武则天》开机仪式 俏皮装束卖萌". hexun.com. 28 December 2013. 
  6. ^ (in Chinese) 电视剧《武则天》无锡开机 女神范冰冰亮相
  7. ^ "Fan Bingbing flaunts full bust for new role "Wu Zetian"". msn.com. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  8. ^ (in Chinese) 范冰冰在绍兴拍《武则天》 粉丝跟紧紧(图)
  9. ^ "TV Series Featuring Fan Bingbing as Empress Wu Zetian to Air Soon". womenofchina.cn. 19 December 2014. 
  10. ^ 《武则天传奇》年底登陆湖南卫视. NetEase (in Chinese). 19 December 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Hit show's suspension leads to widespread speculation". Sina. December 30, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Chinese drama 'The Empress of China' taken off air for being 'too sexy'". Shanghaiist. December 30, 2014. 
  13. ^ "TV drama cut over too-sexy outfits". December 30, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "The Empress Of China returns to TV without cleavage". DramaFever. 4 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "TV show 'The Empress of China' returns". China.org.cn. January 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "The Empress of China" Censors Cleavage After Re-broadcast". JayneStars. 4 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Sexy China TV drama busted, returns to air more sedate". Reuters. January 3, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Cantonese Version of 'The Empress of China' to Air on TVB on April 26". China Topix. 
  19. ^ "TVB to Air Select Dramas 7 Days a Week". JayneStars. 
  20. ^ "TVB Uses CGI to Censor Cleavage in "The Empress of China"". JayneStars. 
  21. ^ "《武媚娘传奇》一波未平一波又起". qnsb.com. 22 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "新版武媚娘 换个马甲的甄嬛?". why.com.cn. 24 December 2015. 
  23. ^ "武媚娘"拦截"一剧四星末班车". why.com.cn. 4 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "武媚娘传奇》穿帮镜头多 剧情改编离谱遭批". ent.scol.com. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 

External links[edit]