By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
The Chinese box office is about to get very crowded. Eight new titles will open this week with their sights set on stealing away the #1 spot from a very strong The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.
Universal's Unbroken will hit the market on January 30. Director Angelina Jolie's World War II drama has earned $28 million overseas since debuting in North America on Christmas Day--a modest sum that could definitely use a boost from China. Jolie's star power will likely help: Maleficent posted a respectable $47.7 million in China last summer.
Running Man shows the most promise out of all of this week's homegrown efforts. The film is a theatrical adaptation of a popular television show by Zhejiang TV. Running Man stars Angelababy and Chen He, who both appeared in Love on the Cloud, a successful Chinese rom-com that has earned $45 million.
Two new Chinese animated films are set to open as well: Boonie Bears: Mystical Winter and Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf - Amazing Pleasant Goat. Homegrown animated films have had a tough time performing as well as Hollywood's efforts, and we don't expect that to change with these two films.
Sunday, Jan. 25th Update: According to Warner Bros., The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is off to an excellent start in China. The fantasy flick has banked $49.5 million in three days from more than 8,800 locations. That puts it on pace to easily top the $75 million haul of 2013's An Unexpected Journey.
Tuesday, Jan. 20th Update:
By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
Hollywood content will yet again overshadow homegrown efforts as The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is poised to fend off four Chinese newcomers this week. Universal's The Seventh Son--the current #1 film in the market--will need to grab as much money as it can before Battle of Five Armies steals away fantasy-loving crowds.
The first two Hobbit films did steady business in China, but they haven't ranked among Hollywood's strongest earners. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey grossed nearly $50 million back in 2012, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug posted nearly $75 million in 2013. The international turnout has been strong for Battle of Five Armies: $558.6 million from 62 markets as of this past weekend. Globally, the action flick has now exceeded $800 million. Success in China is crucial if Battle of Five Armies wants to reach $1 billion globally. Since this is the last Hobbit film, we expect that it will have no problem topping Desolation of Smaug's Chinese gross.
Tales of Mystery, a co-production between Hong Kong and the mainland, uses the popular WeChat app as the basis for a thriller. If the film succeeds financially, it could usher in more tech-based fright flicks. In North America, the sub-genre is starting to gain more ground thanks to Unfriended, a thriller about teens who are haunted by a dead girl over a Skype group chat. The first trailer for Unfriended generated a ton of online buzz last week.
Also opening: A Taste of China, a documentary focused on Chinese cuisine; Daja Vu, a comedy about "Beijing Drifters" starting their own business; and Money Game, a film about a rich Chinese resident who learns a life lesson from his mother's dying wish. Money Game stars South Korean pop star Seung-hyun Lee and Zhang Lanxin (Jackie Chan's CZ 12).
Sunday Update: Estimates place Seventh Son in first place with a solid $15 million over the weekend. Official numbers will be released on Monday.
By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
The Chinese box office is set for another relatively slow week as Universal's Seventh Son enters the market along with a 3D re-release--Kung Fu Hustle--and two homegrown films--The Unbearable Lightness of Inspector Fan and Out Cast--that were previously delayed. Lotus Code--a film with anti-Japanese elements--also opens.
Seventh Son, a fantasy flick from Universal that stars Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes, has already earned nearly $36 million overseas from 34 territories. This past weekend, Seventh Son posted first place openings in the Philippines, Bulgaria, Egypt, the Middle East and United Arab Emirates. Based on Seventh Son's steady performance thus far, expectations in China are modest. BoxOffice.com doesn't anticipate strong returns from the film's North America release, which is slated for February 6 after a couple of delays. We are predicting only a $19 million total gross and that means overseas grosses will easily account for more than 80% of the global haul--a common story these days.
It won't be easy for Seventh Son to compete with Miss Granny and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb considering that both films are expected to enter more theaters this week. The Taking of Tiger Mountain 3D is also holding up well.
Of all the other releases, The Unbearable Lightness of Inspector Fan looks the strongest thanks to an impressive ensemble cast that includes Taiwan's Ethan Ruan, Yang Yang (TV's Red Chamber), Yang Zishan (So Young, Miss Granny), Zhou Dongyu (Love of the Hawthorn Tree, Breakup Buddies).
Hong Kong, SAR -- Acclaimed international filmmaker Wong Kar Wai will produce Alibaba Pictures Group's debut feature film BAI DU REN. The urban romantic comedy will star frequent Wong collaborator Tony Leung Chiu Wai (The Grandmaster, In the Mood For Love) and be written and directed by best-selling author Zhang Jiajia as an adaptation of his own short story. The film, which marks the directorial debut of Zhang, is part of a long term investment deal between Wong's Jet Tone Films and Alibaba to expand its film division.
Bai Du Ren was originally a short story featured in Zhang's anthology collection I Belonged to You, which was China's best-selling book in 2014.
"The partnership with Alibaba Pictures will be an exciting new experience for Jet Tone and me," stated Wong. "Bai Du Ren will be a unique combination of literature, film and technology that will introduce global audiences to one of China's best young talents."
Wong Kar Wai is an award-winning writer/director whose unique narrative and visual styles have inspired a generation of filmmakers. His most recent film, the martial arts epic The Grandmaster was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design at the 86th Academy Awards. Wong's other works include the critically-acclaimed dramas In the Mood for Love, Happy Together and 2046. Wong is currently serving as Exhibition Artistic Director for China: Through the Looking Glass, the Costume Institute's Spring 2015 Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum, which will highlight Chinese imagery in art, film, and fashion
Tony Leung Chiu Wai is one of the most celebrated Chinese actors of his generation. In addition to winning the Best Actor Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for In the Mood for Love, he has also a seven-time Hong Kong Film Award winner and a three-time Golden Horse Film Award winner. He has worked with many leading international filmmakers including Wong Kar Wai (with whom Leung has collaborated with on seven films), Ang Lee and John Woo.
Born in Nantong, Jiangsu Provence, Zhang Jiajia is currently China's best-selling author whose works include "I Belonged To You" and "Mercy: Let Me Always Be With You". He also wrote the screenplay for the martial arts comedy The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman, which earned him a nomination for Best Screenwriter at the 2011 Golden Horse Awards.
Alibaba Pictures Group is the film production division of Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company that provides technology and services to consumers and businesses. Alibaba Pictures will leverage the Alibaba Group's cloud computing and big data technologies to tap customer demand and create a comprehensive ecosystem for its film and television production and marketing businesses.
According to EntGroup, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is up to $31 million after eight days of release. Meanwhile, piracy seriously hindered Annie's debut: Sony's musical earned a paltry $350K over three days, which put it outside the top 10.
China's Miss Granny, a remake of a Korean hit, is now up to a respectable $20 million after four days. The Taking of Tiger Mountain 3D continues to hold up well with $128 million in 20 days.