Sword And Fairy 4: Chen Zheyuan & Ju Jingyi’s Billing Dispute, Premieres, Popularity

Sword And Fairy 4, this A-level production, with no major investments, captured the attention of the audiences even before the release, not due to the story itself, but rather because of the billing dispute involving the two lead actors, Chen Zheyuan and Ju Jingyi.

After the drama team confirmed its premiere date by dropping its official poster and trailer within a 5-minute gap on Weibo before its release, the first promotional material listed the leading actors as Ju Jingyi and Chen Zheyuan (in no particular order) while in the second promo material, the listing was changed to Chen Zheyuan and Ju Jingyi (in no particular order).

The change in ranking order led fans to speculate that Ju Jingyi was no longer in the first billing. In response to this change, fans on the actress’s side voiced their concerns, causing heated discussions on the platform.

Billing is the order or ranking in which the actors or their names are listed and credited. The order can go from top to bottom or left to right; in announcements, posters, and the opening scene, where the most important names are put on top left. In the C-Ent, this credit value is determined based on their popularity in the market.

Top Billing or First Billing gives a clear idea about who holds the highest level of position or the importance of a role in the show, with prominent credit and special recognition being given.

Reportedly, Ju Jingyi was initially top-billed in the series when filming started in 2022. However, after Chen Zheyuan became more popular with ‘Hidden Love,’ in 2023, his popularity and fan growth surpassed the actress, and the billing dispute became a battleground for the two fandoms.

Also, the drama was rumored to premiere before January 17th but was suddenly taken off the shelves due to the controversy.  

On the same day of the drama announcement, both actors’ studios posted statements regarding the Billing dispute.

According to Ju Jingyi’s studio’s statement, the actress was initially given the first billing. However, in the end, the production team announced that both actors would share equal billing, contrary to the original contract.

The studio expressed their disappointment for not respecting the contract and actors. It also mentioned that they have been facing endless malicious online attacks since the start of the filming, but to maintain the show’s good reputation, they chose to tolerate it repeatedly.

“We believe clear and well-defined contracts are essential for creating a fair and just environment for everyone involved. Disputes can only be avoided by adhering to the terms of the contract and fulfilling respective responsibilities”, the studio wrote.

Sword And Fairy 4 or Chinese Paladin 4
Ju Jingyi’s studio statement

On the other side, Chen Zheyuan’s studio posted that the actor was invited to play the main male lead role in the series, and in the contract, both parties’ billing was in no particular order (equal billing).

The studio stated, that based on the billing controversy, malicious rumors are circulating, such as ‘stealing first billing’, ‘capital support,’ etc. which have seriously damaged the legitimate rights and interests of their artist.

“We request everyone to remove all malicious content spread on the platform immediately; otherwise, we will collect evidence and take legal measures to protect our artists’ rights”, the studio said.

Sword And Fairy 4 or Chinese Paladin 4
Chen Zheyuan’s studio statement

The production team has not yet responded to the matter. Some viewers think that if the production team had announced the ranking when they simply started filming, this issue wouldn’t have arisen now.

From the beginning of filming, the official Weibo accounts of the drama didn’t release any materials or promote the show until the day of its premiere.

This already led people to guess that the production team didn’t adhere to their initial agreement as per the contract. Moreover, after the statements from each actor’s side, the situation became more complex.

‘Sword & Fairy’ 4 Popularity

The 2024 costume drama journey literally begins with ‘Sword And Fairy 4’ as it is the first fantasy costume drama to be announced to air at the beginning of the year followed by ‘Sword and Fairy 6‘ starring Xu Kai and Esther Yu.

And yes, as a Chinese costume fantasy series lover, we are no longer unfamiliar with these humans, demons, immortals, ghosts, and the different realms and dynamics connected to them.

What truly sets these dramas apart from each other is their unique story along with other factors like cinematography, plot execution, acting, etc.

Plot Summary:

Adapted from the popular Taiwanese RPG (role-playing game) game ‘The Legend of Sword And Fairy’, ‘Sword And Fairy 4 仙剑四’ tells the story of Yun Tian He (played by Chen Zheyuan), a young boy with a mysterious family background who has been living in the mountain peaks for years, and Han Ling Sha (played by Ju Jingyi), a young lady from the short-lived tomb raiders.

As Han Ling Sha enters the mountain to break into Yun Tian He’s parents’ tomb, the two accidentally encounter each other. Then, Yun Tian He and Han Ling Sha both join hands and embark on a journey to find out Tian He’s parents’ past, accompanied by other friends along the way.

The story revolves around the conflict, crisis, and continuous battle between demons and humans that has persisted for years, driven by the Yin and Yang energy power theme or the Yin Yang double swords.

Overall, ‘Sword & Fairy 4’ is all about sincere friendships, loyalty, brotherhood, and sisterhood, experiencing the personal growth of each character.

  • Initial Result

Despite all the ruckuses, Sword and Fairy kicked off to a good start from a 6000 heat Index on its streaming platform iQIYI on its debut day to 7500 on the second day of its release.

Whether the show can continue to maintain this momentum or not in the upcoming days is yet to be seen, as many believe these new series of Chinese paladin are unable to restore or surpass the previous classic installments like Chinese Paladin 1 (2005) or Chinese Paladin 3 (2009).

Is ‘Sword & Fairy 4’ a continuity of other seasons?

No, each adaptation is an independent story. For those who are wondering whether they can watch this without having seen the previous seasons (1, & 3), the answer is yes. You can enjoy it as a standalone story, even though it is labeled as season 4.

For those wondering where to watch this drama, it’s available on iQIYI.

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