China

China Box Office Weekend Actuals: 'Furious 7' Takes Victory Lap As It Nears $400M, Fourth Weekend at #1; 'Silent Separation' Close Second; 'Home' Holds Strong Over Holiday on May 04, 2015

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Jonathan Papish @ChinaBoxOffice

Furious 7 refuses to hit the brakes in China. The highest-grossing movie of all time in the Middle Kingdom scored a holiday weekend gross of $28.12 million, a drop of only 21%, to bring its total to a staggering $370.21 million after 22 days. With another weekend still to come before Avengers: Age of Ultron shows up on Chinese screens on Tuesday, May 12, Furious still has a shot to cross the $400 million mark. It will be battling against Chappie this upcoming weekend.

Close behind in second, newcomer Silent Separation scored $27.48 million this weekend for a 4-day total of $37.68 million despite many critics railing against its shallow, cliche ridden plot. Nearly 70% of Silent's total came from 3rd and 4th tier cities, smaller cities outside Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou where moviegoing habits are steady, but tastes aren't as open. Conversely, two new well-reviewed arthouse films entered the market this weekend with a majority of tickets coming from 1st tier cities, but little love elsewhere. Wang Xiaoshuai's Red Amnesia which depicted a family dealing with long-term effects from the trauma of the Cultural Revolution and Sylvia Chang's elegiac Murmur of the Hearts earned $526K and $705K respectively on less than 2% of China's screens. Nearly a quarter of Red Amnesia's total came from Beijing, while a third of Murmur's take came from Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai. Both directors were unhappy with the number of screenings given to their films and wrote letters urging filmgoers to see "different" films and thanking fans for their support, but looking at the box office numbers, it will be a long time before the rest of China is ready for these kinds of movies.

In third place, The Left Ear dropped 51% from last weekend for $15.57 million and a total of $64.33 million after 10 days. Hong Kong action thriller Helios opened in fourth with a four day total of $20.68 million. Finally, Home cozied up to $10.83 million, an impressive 34% bump from its opening weekend. Its cume now stands at $21.31 million and should remain a strong family draw with little competition the next few weeks.  

The rest of the top ten can be found below with data from China's EntGroup.

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April 2015 Monthly China Box Office Report on May 03, 2015

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Jonathan Papish @ChinaBoxOffice

China's box office took in $671 million this April, a 126.2% increase over April 2014, largely thanks to Furious 7 which accounted for more than half of that total. There were also 112.65 million admissions, up 120.88% from last April, and the number of screenings increased by 34.44% year-on-year to 4.13 million. In years past, April had been seen as an off-month for the Chinese film industry, but this year the box office nearly matched February's $660.48 million, a peak cinema-going period due to Chinese New Year. Again, this is mostly owed to Furious 7, and along with Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Home, imported movies accounted for 63% of April's box office. 

The top ten films for April can be found below with data from China's EntGroup.

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Weekly Chinese Box Office Preview: ‘Furious 7’ Finally Hits the Brakes - Will a Crowded Field of Domestic Pics Keep Pace Over the Labour Day Holiday Weekend? on April 28, 2015

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Jonathan Papish @ChinaBoxOffice

With Furious 7's dominance at the box office finally starting to fade, nine new films enter cinemas for a crowded Labour Day holiday weekend as the market looks to bounce back with a domestic hit.

Although mainland interest in Hong Kong productions has waned in recent years, directors Lok Man Leung and Kim-ching Luk will try to repeat the performance of their 2012 action flick Cold War (寒战), which grossed over $40 million, with their second joint effort, Helios (赤道). The doomsday thriller is being praised for its strong action scenes and technical level and boasts an impressive pan-Asian cast in Jacky Cheung (July Rhapsody), Nick Cheung (Unbeatable) Choi Si-won (Dragon Blade), and Zhang Zhen (Happy Together).

Four new romance pics try to squeeze into an already crowded playing field with last weekend's second place finisher The Left Ear (左耳): Murmur of the Hearts (念念), Silent Separation (何以笙箫默), Follow Me My Queen (女神跟我走), and Zhen Bian Ren (枕边人).

Murmur of the Hearts is a holdover from two weeks ago and may have lost some of its heat after it was postponed trying to avoid Furious 7's hot ticket. Despite garnering the best "word of mouth" according to EntGroup's EFMT Index, the artsy film's methodical narrative and leaps in editing may have trouble attracting a mainstream audience this weekend.

However, Silent Separation will do some damage at the box office. Following a trend seen the past few weeks, this youthful pic is based on a novel of the same name and was also adapted into a TV series before hitting the big screen. It's built-in fan base could come out in droves to support the young good-looking cast of Tong Dawei, Huang Xiaoming and real-life girlfriend Yang Ying (Angelababy). EntGroup's EFMT Index gives Silent Separation the highest marks for "awareness" and "intent to purchase" this weekend.

Other new films this week include Sixth Generation director Wang Xiaoshuai's Red Amnesia (闯入者) which was in contention at last year's Venice International Film Festival, rom-com Lovers & Movies (爱我就陪我看电影), local Chongqing pic Port of Call, and the rendering of China's venerable Chairman Mao as a poorly animated 3D character in Teenage Mao ZeDong (少年毛泽东).

In a field oversaturated with youthful romance pics, we see Helios as a big draw this weekend, but Silent Separation and The Left Ear could pull in decent totals as well. Furious 7 won't put up the same staggering numbers as it has the past three weekends, but it will still place in the top 5, and Home should have strong legs considering it's the only family friendly pic out there this holiday weekend (no disrespect, teenage Chairman Mao).

China Box Office Weekend Actuals: 'Furious 7' Edges Out 'The Left Ear'; Crosses 2 Billion RMB to Become #1 Movie of All-Time on April 27, 2015

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Jonathan Papish

Furious 7's grip loosened on the Chinese box office this weekend, dropping 61% from last week to gross $35.14 million, but it still held on to the top spot for the third consecutive weekend, edging out newcomer The Left Ear's (左耳) respectable $31.19 million. Furious grabbed 42% of the market this weekend, down from 82% last weekend. Sometime on Sunday, Furious became the first movie ever in China to cross the 2 Billion RMB mark and in doing so surpassed Transformers: Age of Extinction as the highest grossing film in Chinese box office history. After just 15 days of release, the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious series (an eighth was just announced for April '17, to the delight of Chinese fans) has earned $323.33 million surpassing the estimated 24 day North American total of $320.5 million. While several films have grossed more in China than they did stateside (The Expendables 3 - $72.66 million vs $39.32, Need For Speed $66.19 million vs $43.57 million, this is only the second time it has happened with a bonafide successful blockbuster in both markets. (Transformers 4 was the first). 

Targeted squarely at the Post-80s/Post-90s crowd, The Left Ear earned a decent $31.19 million to take second place in its first weekend of release. The youthful pic outgunned rival Ever Since We Love (万物生长) which dropped 74% to fourth place with $2.88 million. After ten days, the film has grossed $21.84 million. 

In third place, Dreamworks Animation's Home opened to $7.96 million. The film played on about 15% of China's screens this weekend and was able to attract family audiences as the only kid friendly wide release. Home is 23% ahead of The Croods which ended up with $63.5 million in 2013, but that total seems unlikely for Home with a crowded market the next few weekends. Rounding out the top five was Arnold Schwarzenegger's Sabotage which opened with $2.47 million. Arnie will look to make a dent at the box office next with Terminator Genisys opening in China on July 1.

The rest of China's top ten can be found below with data from EntGroup Consulting.

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Chinese Film Industry News Roundup: Deals Made at Beijing International Film Festival, Alibaba Pictures Purchases Online Ticketing Platform on April 22, 2015

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Village Roadshow Inks Five-Picture Deal With China's Beijing Hairun Pictures (Deadline)

"Village Roadshow Asia has signed a five-picture deal with China's Beijing Hairun Pictures that will include a feature film on former NBA player Stephon Marbury's experiences playing in the Middle Kingdom. The deal, described as a 'a long-term partnership in the joint development, financing, production and distribution of feature films,' was announced today by Village Roadshow Pictures Asia CEO Ellen Eliasoph and Liu Yanming, chairman of Hairun Media & Entertainment Group at the Beijing International Film Festival."

Heyi Pictures Signs Partnership Deals for Original Movies (Hollywood Reporter)

"Heyi Pictures, the film unit of Chinese online TV giant Youku Tudou, has signed a raft of deals with local media companies to develop original movies for its platform. The deals, including ones with major Chinese magazine and online publishers, could deliver nine projects by 2016, according to Heyi Pictures CEO Allen Zhu."

Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd Buys Movie-Ticketing Firm (ValueWalk)

"Alibaba Pictures, a subsidiary of Chinese online retail behemoth Alibaba, has announced the acquisition of movie ticketing software firm Yueke for 830 million yuan ($134 million). Yueke works with more than 1,000 theaters across China. It offers multiple services such as ticket management software for staffed booths and automatic vending machines, enterprise software that helps theaters run operations, white label mobile apps, and digital signage. It has partnerships with Alipay, WeChat, Tmall, Weibo, Douban, and group-buying site Meituan."

Sale of Cirque du Soleil Aims to Open Doors in China (NYTimes Dealbook)

"On Monday, a consortium of private equity investors led by TPG agreed to buy Cirque du Soleil for 1.5 billion Canadian dollars, a purchase that will pave the way for the company to expand into China. One of the buyers, Fosun of China, is heavily invested in entertainment and travel businesses, including the recent purchase of Club Med. The plan is to open a Cirque office in China...TPG and Fosun were most likely attracted by both Cirque's high brand recognition in the West as well as the prospect of a China expansion. 'You have a growing middle class and that middle class starts to have the beginnings of disposable income, how do you capture that?' One approach is to bring in recognized brands and have them do what they do without having to learn it.'

Dalian Wanda to open nearly 900 malls by 2025, focus on lower-tier cities (Reuters)

"Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group and China's richest man, according to Forbes, said the group will open at least 50 "Wanda Plazas" each year from 2016, and have 400-500 shopping malls by 2020 and 1,000 by 2025, focusing on third and fourth-tier cities. The group had 109 such plazas at the end of last year."

Beijing: 'The Gate' wins MPA Grand Prize (ScreenDaily)

"Sci-fi love story The Gate, a film about a tour guide who finds himself in a virtual gaming world, has won the MPA Grand Prize in Beijing. The film's writer/director, Xin Cheng Jiang, is known as an influential commercial TV director. The award was presented at the Motion Picture Association (MPA) - Beijing Film Market (BFM) Film Workshop, held during the Beijing International Film Festival (BIFF)."


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