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Wham! in China: Foreign Skies is a 1986 documentary film about the English pop duo Wham! consisting of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. It follows Wham! on their 10-day visit to China during the 1985 world tour.[2] The film is a British venture produced by Big Boys Overseas Limited and CBS Records, with CBS/Fox Video serving as distributor.[3][4] Directed by Lindsay Anderson and produced by Jazz Summers, Martin Lewis and Simon Napier-Bell.[5] Wham! made history in China by being the first Western pop act to visit the country.[6][7] Wham! in China: Foreign Skies had its world premiere at the farewell concert held at London’s Wembley Stadium on 28 June 1986.

Wham! in China: Foreign Skies
Wham! in China - Foreign Skies cover.jpeg
Betamax release cover
Directed byLindsay Anderson
Produced by
Starring
Music by
Edited byNigel Galt
Production
companies
Distributed byCBS/Fox Video (original)
Sony Music Entertainment (current)
Release date
28 June 1986
(Wembley Stadium)[1]
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish, Mandarin

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Manager Simon Napier-Bell’s negotiation for the two performances took over 18 months. Napier-Bell used cunning tactics to sabotage the efforts of rock band Queen to be the first to play in China: he made two brochures for the Chinese authorities – one featuring Wham! [Michael] as "wholesome", and one portraying Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in typically flamboyant poses. The Chinese opted for Wham!.[8][9]

In December 1984 Wham! set out for their second concert tour, The Big Tour a commercial success, which promoted primarily their second studio album, Make It Big. The concept of filming Foreign Skies began when producer Martin Lewis was busy directing the 1985 documentary about Julian Lennon, titled Stand by Me - A Portrait of Julian Lennon. During a Wham! performance in February 14, 1985 at the Beacon Theatre in New York, he met the duo’s co-manager Jazz Summers and discussed the possibility of filming the China tour.[10] When Lewis had permission for the film, it took two weeks to prepare the 35-member international crew, including transportation of a sound desk and super 16 camera equipment.[11]

British director Lindsay Anderson was engaged to accompany Wham! to China in April 1985. The second leg in East Asia began with two concerts in Hong Kong, before moving to China with a concert at the Workers' Gymnasium in Beijing on 7 April in front of 12,000 people. They also played a concert on 10 April in front of 5,000 in Canton. The two concerts were played without compensation, however Wham's visit to China attracted huge media attention across the world.[12][13]

Post-productionEdit

The film created by Strathford Hamilton and Andy Morahan was shot over two weeks, was then edited over summer and autumn 1985 in London. Anderson called his one-hour and 18 minute film If You Were There.[14] In the final stages of editing, Anderson was dismissed in October 1985 by Wham!'s management, the editing team quit, and the film was entirely re-edited, renamed and released as Wham! in China: Foreign Skies.[15]

MusicEdit

The soundtrack used in the film was taken from the albums Fantastic and Make It Big. The documentary features some concert footage and studio cut excerpts of the following tracks:[16]

  1. "Bad Boys"
  2. "Club Tropicana"
  3. "Blue"
  4. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
  5. "Ray Of Sunshine"
  6. "Young Guns (Go For It)"
  7. "Careless Whisper" (concert footage)
  8. "Everything She Wants" (concert footage)
  9. "Like A Baby"
  10. "If You Were There"
  11. "Runaway"
  12. "Love Machine"

ReleaseEdit

The world premiere of Wham! in China: Foreign Skies was shown at London’s Wembley Stadium on large video screens on Saturday 28 June 1986 before The Final began.[17] With an audience of 72,000; this set a record for the largest audience at a film premiere.[18]

Home mediaEdit

It was released on VHS, Betamax and LaserDisc in October 1986. The documentary has yet to be issued on DVD and only one track "Blue (Live In China)" from the film has been officially released on their studio album Music from the Edge of Heaven. In the United States the video retailed at $19.98 and debuted at number 8 on Billboard's Top Music Videocassettes chart, for the week ending 25 October 1986 and climbed to number 4, two weeks later.[19][20] As the video started to climb up the chart, and for the week ending 6 December 1986, it reached number 1, replacing The #1 Video Hits by Whitney Houston.[21] Wham! in China: Foreign Skies was the sixteenth best-selling music videocassette for 1986.[22] It was present on the top 20 chart for a total of 17 weeks until February 1987.[23] The video was certified gold in April 1987 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of 50,000 copies.[24]

Charts and certificationsEdit

ChartsEdit

Charts (1986) Peak
position
US Top Music Videocassettes (Billboard)[25][26] 1

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[27] Gold 50,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

CreditsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ How Wham! made Lindsay Anderson see red in China - By Paul Kelbie, Scotland Correspondent
  2. ^ Lindsay Anderson - Wham! In China: Foreign Skies
  3. ^ If You Were There: Wham! in China - UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING ARCHIVES
  4. ^ "Wham in China – Foreign Skies (1986) AKA Lindsay Anderson's If You Were There". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  5. ^ Foreign Skies (1986) - British Film Institute
  6. ^ Careless Whispers: The Life & Career of George Michael: Revised & Updated By Robert Steele
  7. ^ George Michael: The biography - By Rob Jovanovic
  8. ^ I'm Coming To Take You To Lunch: A Fantastic Tale of Boys, Booze and how Wham! Were Sold to China - 30 Jan 2006
  9. ^ "How Wham! brought the West to China". BBC News. 24 March 2005.
  10. ^ Billboard Wham! in China tour documentary to premiere at farewell concert - 21 Jun 1986 (P. 50)
  11. ^ Billboard Wham! in China tour documentary to premiere at farewell concert - 21 Jun 1986 (P. 50)
  12. ^ Neville, Sam (28 April 1985). "ROCK: East meets Wham!, and another great wall comes down". Chicago Tribune – via ProQuest.
  13. ^ If You Were There: Wham! in China - UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING ARCHIVES
  14. ^ If You Were There: Wham! in China - UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING ARCHIVES
  15. ^ If You Were There: Wham! in China - UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING ARCHIVES
  16. ^ Wham! In China: Foreign Skies - (VHS (Video) - CBS/Fox #) Allmusic.com
  17. ^ How Wham! made Lindsay Anderson see red in China - By Paul Kelbie, Scotland Correspondent
  18. ^ How Wham! made Lindsay Anderson see red in China - By Paul Kelbie, Scotland Correspondent
  19. ^ Billboard Top Music Videocassettes - New entry: #8 for week ending October 25, 1986 (P. 51)
  20. ^ Billboard Top Music Videocassettes - Position: #4 for week ending November 8, 1986 (P. 48)
  21. ^ Billboard Top Music Videocassettes - Position #1 for week ending December 6, 1986 (P. 49)
  22. ^ Billboard Top Music Videocassette Hit Chart - best-selling videocassettes during August 2, 1986 to August 1, 1987. - August 22, 1987 (V-36)
  23. ^ Billboard Top Music Videocassettes - February 14, 1987 (P. 44)
  24. ^ "RIAA Certified Awards". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2018-12-28. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  25. ^ Top Music Videocassettes - Billboard (P. 49)
  26. ^ Billboard - 6 Dec 1986, Wham! in China, Top Videocassettes
  27. ^ "American video certifications – Wham! – Wham! in China: Foreign Skies". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 26, 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Video Longform, then click SEARCH. 

External linksEdit