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The Golden Rock - July 20, 2011 Edition

Today’s focus will be this week’s Chinese box office:

- As expected, WU XIA tops another week at the Chinese box office, adding an extra 52 million yuan to its take. After 14 days, Peter Chan’s action flick has taken in 152 million yuan. Yes, topping the box office for two weeks is good news, but its box office pattern is almost exactly the same as THE LOST BLADESMAN, which topped out at 160 million yuan. For a film that cost a reported 120 million yuan to produce, having only 27.2 admissions per show in its second week is not good news. Normally, the film would make about 200 million yuan at its current rate, but with TRANSFORMERS pretty much swallowing up all the screens this weekend, WU XIA will definitely not be hitting that number. Now, We Pictures will have to look to overseas sale and box office in the rest of Asia (it opens this weekend in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan - all major Chinese-speaking territories) for success.

Meanwhile, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND continues its surprisingly successful run, making 41.3 million yuan over its first full week at the box office with 29.09 admissions per show. After 10 days, it has already made 65.6 million yuan, which is amazing for a film that reportedly cost only 5 million yuan to produce.  It’s likely to top out at around 75-80 million yuan, again due to TRANSFORMERS killing all competition this weekend.

Elsewhere, A LEGEND OF A RABBIT managed to make 12.1 million yuan over 7 days from 20,000 showings and 3D prices. With just 16.45 admissions per showing, it seems like Chinese animation still has a long way to go (more in a future entry). Milkyway’s PUNISHED (shown in edited form in China) makes just 6 million yuan over 6 days, and Simon Yam’s heist comedy COMING BACK makes just 4.75 million yuan over 3 days. Wong Jing’s TREASURE INN was at 96 million yuan by the end of this past weekend, which means it should end with just over 100 million yuan to become one of the highest-grossing Chinese films of the year so far.

For those that still care, BEGINNING OF THE GREAT REVIVAL is at 362 million yuan after 33 days. It still has a strong per-show admission of 29.5, but let’s face it, how many of those admissions are voluntary, and how many of those people that bought tickets actually showed up? Still way below FOUNDING OF A REPUBLIC, so while it’s the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year, I think we can chalk it up as a disappointment now.

And for those that actually cared in the first place, HARRY POTTER will be opening in China on August 4th.

- Since we’re on box office, Studio Ghibli’s latest KOKURIKOZAKA KARA, by Goro Miyazaki, only mustered a third place opening behind HARRY POTTER and the latest POKEMON film. Ghibli films have a history of having staying power at the box office, but I think Goro might not be feeling so good right now.

- It’s pretty much TRANSFORMERS day over there in China, as the film officially premiered at midnight July 21st. Expectations are high, as multiplexes are taking down as many as 10 films to clear the way for the robot fightin’ blockbuster. Those films include REVIVAL, KUNG FU PANDA 2,  FAST FIVE, TO LOVE OR NOT, and ANIMALS UNITED. The films that remain - WU XIA, LEGEND OF A RABBIT, PIANO IN A FACTOR - are all only getting two to three showings per day.

According to a post of weibo, Beijing has the film in 68 cinemas for a total of 1380 shows on July 21 alone. How’s that for a foreign invasion?

Speaking of Weibo, people are literally live weibo-ing from their showings. Now, that’s how you trend.

Demand is so high that cinemas are reporting packed midnight showings and IMAX prices jumping up to 150-180 yuan per ticket. Some cinemas said they will even add 3 am IMAX showings if the demand calls for it.

However, on the eve of its opening, some digital projection-equipped cinemas are reporting that they still haven’t gotten the encryption key to download their digital prints, even though the film has been available for exhibitors to download since Monday. Netizens began screaming conspiracy right away, wondering if higher powers are meddling. However, insiders have pointed out that this is actually not the first time theaters didn’t get their encryption key in time, and that this is simply getting so much attention because the film happens to be TRANSFORMERS. Those insiders say that this actually points out that the Chinese film industry is developing so rapidly that cinemas are not prepared in terms of handling the technology. From my experiences in Urumqi cinemas, I can say that’s probably true.

- Zhou Dongyu update: See UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE’s Zhou Dongyu and Aarif Lee on the set of the Barbara Wong tearjerker in Shanghai. Yes, I’m only posting this because I’m a fan of Zhou Dongyu.

- Full-length trailer for THE LIFE OF DAVID, starring Huang Bo as a fried rice-loving mentally challenged man. The film’s poster is already promoting this as the Chinese version of FORREST GUMP, and it certainly looks like it. The film opens in China on July 28th. Whether there’ll be screens playing it is a different story.

If you’re in Hong Kong, the Summer International Film Festival website is now open. Taiwan’s YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE is opening film, while Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS will close. Tickets go on sale July 22nd.

And if you’re in China, go celebrate the return of foreign films with some robot fightin’


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