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The Golden Rock - July 13, 2011 Edition

Pushing the cheap Hong Kong summer focus story to the next entry so we can cover more detail about Chinese box office this past weekend:

- According to numbers from Entgroup, Peter Chan’s WUXIA made RMB 101 million in its first 7 days. On paper, this seems like a nice number, but it’s actually not a very good gross if you look at the details. In the first seven days, the film had 82013 shows for a total of 2.97 million admissions for the first seven days. In comparison, THE LOST BLADESMAN had 2.98 million admissions from 78966 shows in the first six days. In terms of admissions per show, WU XIA is doing worse than LOST BLADESMAN, and with word of mouth in China reportedly split down the middle, WU XIA may end up grossing under RMB 200 million. This would be considered a major disappointment, considering WARLORDS did this kind of number four years ago, when RMB 200 million was still impressive. As mentioned in the previous entry, the CEO of Stellar Megamedia is disappointed with the gross, but emphasized that the film will eventually find its way to profitability thanks to strong rights sales overseas. As reported in the last entry, Stellar’s CEO also believes that the current “box office gouging” scandal is not believed to be a major factor for WU XIA’s gross, stating that the week’s total box office was weak in general.

The other big surprise on the box office chart is MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, the horror film directed by Chung Kai-Cheung and starring Jordan Chan.  The film made a shocking RMB 24.3 million in its first three days, with 771859 admissions from just 18576 showings for a per-show average of 41.55 admissions (yes, that even beat WU XIA). With this and the success of MIDNIGHT BEATING, this is sparking off a new appreciation in the film industry for low-budget horror flicks, which is surprisingly in line with the way horror films are perceived in Hollywood as well.

Elsewhere on the chart, BEGINNING OF GREAT REVIVAL is taking is sharp dive, now with a total gross of RMB 348 million. With a 32.9 admissions-per-show average, it seems like there is still an audience for the film. However, it’s definitely under performing when China Film Group projections and comparison to FOUNDING OF A REPUBLIC’s gross are factored in.

REST ON YOUR SHOULDER, the fantasy film from Jacob Cheung starring Aloys Chen, Gigi Leung, and Guey Lun Mei, was dead on arrival over the weekend. It only made RMB 6.8 million in its first three days, with 204178 admissions from 12744 shows. That’s a per-show average of just 16 admissions. The distributor said before release that the RMB 60 million film will need to make RMB 200 million to recuperate cost, and that’s definitely not happening now.

Wong Jing’s TREASURE INN now takes a steady dive with a total of RMB 81 million in the bank, but it’ll likely hit the RMB 100 million mark by the end of its run. With LEGEND OF A RABBIT opening this week, KUNG FU PANDA 2 has probably just spent its final week in the top 10. It has made an amazing RMB 608 million in 44 days.

In addition to A LEGEND OF A RABBIT, this week also sees the release of PUNISHED (in edited for China form), Taiwan’s NIGHT MARKET HERO, the heist comedy COMING BACK (with Simon Yam), the adult romance TO LOVE OR NOT, animated film THE TIBETAN DOG, and film festival favorite PIANO IN A FACTORY. In other words, films taking screens away from WU XIA, REST ON YOUR SHOULDER, and BEGINNING OF A GREAT REVIVAL, so next week should be interesting.

- Speaking of Chinese box office, total box office gross in the second quarter of 2011 has gone up 47%. Four Hollywood blockbusters - THOR, FAST GIVE, KUNG FU PANDA 2, and PIRATES 4 - took up 50% of the RMB 2.8 billion total. Meanwhile, China had LOST BLADESMAN, A CHINESE GHOST STORY, BEGINNING OF THE GREAT REVIVAL, and even DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART helping to boost local films as well.

According to SARFT, this brings the half-year’s total box office to RMB 5.7 billion. Impressive.

- In more WU XIA news, Hong Kong censorship body TELA has rated WU XIA, and here’s what they wrote:

WUXIA line
Classification:     Category IIB Category IIB
Director:     Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Language of dialogue:     Putonghua
Language of subtitle:     Chinese & English
Duration:     116 min
Remarks:     Contains strong violence and shocking scenes

According to Australian cinema websites. the version playing there now also runs 116 minutes, one minute shorter than the length reported in China. So this may be the “international cut” being referred to on the internet.

Production news:

Facebook pages have been opened for two films currently in production:

- The Raymond Wong-produced, Wilson Yip-directed comedy is now called MAGIC TO WIN. According to the Hong Kong Film blog, this is Raymond Wong’s remake of his successful HAPPY GHOST series. Due to SARFT rules, Wong was forced to change the ghost part to magic/wizardry. The film stars Louis Koo, Wu Chun, Raymond Wong, and Jing Boran. The film will open in China on December 1.

- The other film just starting production is NIGHTFALL, the latest film from the Roy Chow-Christine To duo. The two last brought you MURDERER (whoo-freakin’-hoo). The film is a crime thriller starring Nick Cheung, Simon Yam, Michael Wong, Janice Man, Kay Tse, and UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE’s Sean Dou. Cheung reportedly buffed up for his role of a criminal, and Simon Yam earlier referred to this film as MURDERER 2.

- No Facebook page, but it’s been confirmed that Pang Ho-Cheung’s first Mainland-produced feature film will be released in August. LACUNA is part of Pang’s “4+1″ project, with the four being the four short films produced by Samsung China and Sina that were released on the web (which included NAIL CLIPPER MONSTER, starring Zhou Xun). LACUNA was directed by Derek Tsang and Jimmy Wan, and it stars Shawn Yue and Zhang Jingchu as two people who woke up after a night of heavy drinking. Together, they trace back to their wild night together and find love in the process. Yes, I know it sounds like THE HANGOVER in China.

- According to Oriental Daily (no link!) , director/screenwriter team Mabel Cheung and Alex Law (AN AUTUMN’S TALE, THE SOONG SISTERS) are planning to make TRACES OF DRAGON, a love story that takes place in the 40s and 50s, and they have asked Nicholas Tse to star. However, no decision on the production will be made until they get a response from Tse’s side.

And now, I read Weibo so you don’t have to:

- Anthony Wong writes on his Weibo: “Hong Kong films must be seen in Hong Kong. It’s like going to Broadway to see a musical. The genuine thing”. On that note, PUNISHED opens in China tomorrow in edited form.

-  According to an unidentified source, Zhang Yimou’s NANJING HEROES may be ready for Venice at its current pace, and that it may get a week-long release in Mainland China in September (assuming to get qualified for the Academy Awards). This is just rumor on Weibo from what may not be a reliable source, so take it with a grain of salt.

- CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST and ONE FINE SPRING DAY director Hur Jin-Ho has joined Weibo. Funny, I’m following him, but not Emma Watson.

Next time: A low-budget Hong Kong summer, and whatever we can get our hands on.


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Film Business Asia

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