A poster of "How Are You."
A film based on the fictional characters in the most popular Chinese English textbook will hit theaters in June.
"How Are You" tries to draw on the nostalgia of former Chinese students who used the textbook to study English in their junior high school years from 1990 - 2000. It was compiled by the People's Education Publishing House and the London-based Longman Publishing Group.
The film producers claim about 200 million students used the textbook.
The editors designed several fictional characters such as Han Meimei, Li Lei, Jim, Lily, Lucy, Miss Gao and an English-speaking parrot named Polly. The educational materials were built around their dialogues and interactions in the book and an accompanying oral English cassette, which later became an unforgettable memory for numerous students.
This generated a cult pop culture after such students started to remember their youthful days in discussions via the internet since 2005. Various cultural creations were made based on these characters, mainly Li Lei and Han Meimei, including a comic strip, books, a music group, merchandise, stage play, amateur music video, mini movie and a TV series.
The new film "How Are You", directed by Yang Yongchun and starring young actors Zhang Zifeng and Zhang Yijie, will offer a new puppy-love romantic storyline based on the original characters from the textbook. The film will be released in China on June 9, 2017.