Scripted resonance or lost in translation? storytelling and Chinese reception of everything everywhere all at once

Aiqing Wang, Thomas William Whyke, FRSA, FHEA, Joaquin Lopez-Mugica

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


This study delves into the intricate art of screenwriting by critically examining the reception of the 2023 award-winning film, Everything Everywhere All at Once, among Chinese audiences. Notwithstanding its international laurels, Everything has sparked a divided sentiment in mainland China. While its audacious blend of genres and the poignant depiction of Chinese-American experiences have been recognised, Everything was absent from Chinese theatres, owing to its explicit content. However, its digital footprint on Chinese streaming platforms has painted a picture of ambivalence. Many Chinese viewers expressed reservations about the screenwriters’ frequent use of pop culture references, perceived narrative clichés, and the incorporation of elements that seem discordant with conventional Chinese storytelling. Yet, interspersed among these critiques is admiration for its visual brilliance and inclusivity. Grounded in resonance theory, this study scrutinises Everything, particularly the screenplay’s reliance on the oft-touted ‘universal’ blueprint of the ‘Hero’s Journey’. Aligning with critiques suggesting such frameworks might be culturally myopic, this study connects these screenwriting choices to the lukewarm reception among Chinese audiences. Through this lens, the study offers invaluable insights for screenwriters keen on crafting narratives that resonate deeply with Chinese viewers. Moreover, it adds to the larger conversation about the need for diversifying screenwriting templates on the global stage, challenging the dominance of Western-centric paradigms such as the Hero’s Journey. At its core, this study deciphers the intricate tapestry of screenwriting elements that strike a chord within the Chinese sociocultural milieu.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Screenwriting
Publication statusPublished Online - 20 Mar 2024


  • Chinese film market
  • cross-cultural storytelling
  • diversifying screenwriting
  • cultural sensitivity
  • audience reception
  • resonance theory


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