By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
Out of the six titles opening in China this week, homegrown romance Somewhere Only We Know (trailer below) and India's Happy New Year pose the biggest threats to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the current #1 film.
The creative team behind Somewhere Only We Know is beloved in China. Director Xu Jinglei achieved popularity as an actress, and her fans are expected to follow as she steps behind the camera. The romantic drama's script is from commercially successful writer Wang Shuo (Personal Tailor), who has a reputation for capturing the mood of the generation born after the Cultural Revolution. Star Wu Yifan, former leader of the South Korean pop group EXO, brings plenty of drawing power with him. Lu Han, another member of EXO, recently found box office success with Miss Granny, a $57 million hit. Two other homegrown romances--Comrades: Almost a Love Story and To Be Together--open this week, but neither one looks as strong as Somewhere Only We Know. The comedy Lucky Star 2015 is also aimed at the same crowds that will flock to Somewhere Only We Know.
With success around the globe already achieved, Happy New Year, the latest film from Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan, is getting an ambitious release in China this week. Happy New Year will open on 5,000 screens in the Middle Kingdom. This release could be groundbreaking for the China-India dynamic. Currently, Dhoom 3 ranks as the highest-grossing Indian film in China with just $3.2 million. Happy New Year should have no problem breezing past that modest sum. If Happy New Year posts strong numbers, more Indian films could find their way to China.
James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D also opens this week. Cameron's popularity in China--Avatar was the #1 film of all time before Transformers: Age of Extinction came along--will lead to some fans showing up, but this documentary isn't designed to become a massive commercial hit. Deepsea earned only $235,659 during its North American theatrical run.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is off to an excellent start in China. Sources report that the film earned $10 million on its first day of release, which puts it on pace to easily top the nearly $30 million that Catching Fire tallied in the Middle Kingdom. Mockingjay Part 1's release benefits from a 3D version that wasn't seen in North America.
Happy New Year, the latest hit from global superstar Shah Rukh Khan, will open on 5,000 screens in China on February 12, according to Red Chillies Entertainment.
"This is the first Indian movie to come to China this year and in our meeting with Mr. Shah Rukh Khan and Yash Raj Films Chairman Mr. Aditya Chopra we discussed about many more collaborations in the future. We hope this is just the start of a long journey," said Madam Xiao Ping, President of China Film Group.
China is now the top overseas market for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, unseating Germany as the top foreign performer with a $92.6 million cume. The latest Hobbit film is now the third highest grossing WB title of all time in China.
Unbroken was overshadowed in its Chinese debut, settling for fourth place behind the second week of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and a pair of local titles. The drama directed by Angelina Jolie grossed a total of $2.9 million in its Chinese debut.