Chinese Paladin 4 仙剑四 has just opted to air drop at 18:00 starting January 17, 2024 on iQIYI. The premiere caught fans off guard though it isn’t a complete surprise. Speculations surrounding the reason for the sudden release point to a connection with billing controversy, further fueled by the absence of updates on the drama’s official Weibo account for the past two years even though filming was completed in 2022.
Chinese Paladin 4 is among a number of adaptations based on the gaming franchise. Its enchanting world will soon grace the screens, but behind the magical façade lies a storm of controversy surrounding its leads Ju Jingyi and Chen Zheyuan. Word on the street is that Ju Jingyi’s team had top billing, but production was intent on changing it given Chen Zheyuan’s recent success in Hidden Love. Today, both were announced as equal leads. In fact, the poster announcement had Ju Jingyi’s name first, while the teaser announcement had Chen Zheyuan’s name first. Both state that the billing is not in any order.
Dispute Over the Contract
Within minutes after the premiere announcement, Ju Jingyi’s studio broke its silence, shedding light on the contractual terms and expressing disappointment at production’s failure to honor the agreed-upon billing order. In their direct statement, Ju Jingyi’s studio asserted: “In the contract signed by our artist Ju Jingyi, the agreed-upon method is to have first billing above all actors’ names listed.”
In the midst of the controversy, Ju Jingyi was said to have faced an onslaught of online attacks. Her studio tolerated things to protect the project, but they say the contract is their bottom line.
Chen Zheyuan’s Team Denies “Seizing Top Billing”
Shortly after, Chen Zheyuan’s agency Gramarie, stated the 27-year-old actor’s commitment to character portrayal and a steadfast respect for the script and his co-stars. Chen Zheyuan’s studio called out allegations of “seizing top billing,” “capital backing” and “purposely disregarding billing.” They state that the contract indicated that billing would not be in any order as both leads names would be alternately listed. They also stressed the actor’s dedication to his craft and the importance of adhering to contractual obligations.
Billing dispute is a familiar tune in the Chinese entertainment industry. While there’s been some move to emphasize that billing really shouldn’t be the source of so many fan wars, many are supporting Ju Jingyi’s team to protect her rights if the contract was indeed disregarded. Many are pinning the blame on production given that both sides seem to state contract discrepancies. However, some continue to accuse Chen Zheyuan’s team as his agency Gramerie also happens to be under iQIYI.