87-year-old Roger Corman, famous espouser of B-movies, is putting some money into Chinese ultra-low-budgets. Financed through Hong Kong-based production company ACE Studios, Corman’s two projects will be English-language productions targeted at the United States cable TV market — Fist of the Dragon, slated for a 2014 release, and The Living Dead, which has already been completed.
The Living Dead, which will be released in the U.S. as Hell’s Haunted Palace, is a rare horror film from China, as the government has a strict ban in place that forbids the depiction of paranormal activities on screen in order to prevent exposure to types of archaic superstition.
Directed by Chinese-Australian Antony Szeto, The Living Dead premiered at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in Bucheon, South Korea. It depicts a team of U.S. filmmakers who have their original mission of making a documentary about the Chinese Ghost Festival derailed by a deadly female spirit.
This film will not be released in China and Szeto says the film wasn’t made for Chinese audiences — it was made for the United States. It stars Catherine Siggins, Katie Savoy, James Taku Leung, and Juju Chan. The trailer was just released:
Last year, China's box office revenue from June to August was ¥4.1 billion (approx. $660 million). This year's mark fell right about the same — ¥4 billion (approx. $652 million).
More than 50 films will be screened in the three month period, including both Hollywood blockbusters and domestic features. The domestic productions outpaced the imports during the stretch. In the next half of the summer, however, there will be more international films — including Monsters University, which is slated for release on August 23. [China Daily]
The Hollywood Reporter is quoting a $9 million opening day for Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim in China. It's a huge number for Warner Bros., marking the highest single-day performance in the territory in the studio's history. Pacific Rim now moves up to second place among the biggest non-Chinese openings of the year, pushing Fast 6 down to third place days after the Vin Diesel movie shattered opening day records for Universal in the market.
Fast 6 crossed the $500 million mark at the overseas box office after a $24 million opening weekend in China. $3 million of the take came from IMAX screens as the sixth installment in the Fast franchise became Universal's highest opening of all time in the market. Fast & Furious 6 scored the second-highest opening weekend for a non-Chinese release in 2013, only trailing Iron Man 3. The $503 million overseas total is a major milestone for Fast & Furious 6, the highest grossing film in the franchise and the first to reach the half-billion mark outside of North America.
White House Down opened early on in the week and went on to score a healthy $18.7 million take after its first week in release. Roland Emmerich's second go at trashing the White House has struggled worldwide, including a disappointing $70 million run in North America. South Korea ($3.5M) and Russia ($3.4M) are the other top performers for the film outside of China. White House Down has grossed $116.2 million globally.
The two Hollywood new releases in the market put a dent in After Earth's strong Chinese run. The M Night Shyamalan film tumbled down to fifth place on the chart with a $3.14 million take in its third week. A $240 million worldwide total for the Will Smith father-son vehicle isn't up to Sony's original expectations but can't be considered a total disaster considering the film's poor $59 million run in North America. China is the most significant market for After Earth by a wide margin, responsible for $33.8 million of its $182 million overseas total. Other top performers for After Earth include Russia ($17M), Mexico ($13.7M), and France ($10.4M).
Top Ten Films in China.
Tuesday Update: Revised numbers from Entgroup indicate that Fast 6 has taken in a whopping $34 million from Friday-Monday in China. A source in China tells BoxOffice the figure is significantly higher than originally estimated due to a delay in reported grosses from one of the country's top theater chains.
Sunday Update #2: Official word from Universal is estimating the final weekend tally for Fast 6 to close out at $24 million. It marks the second highest opening of the year for a Hollywood film in China behind Iron Man 3. China is the last territory in the theatrical run of Fast 6. The market is responsible for helping the film cross the half-billion overseas mark and reach a global cume that currently stands at $741.1 million.
Sunday Update: A slower Saturday increase than expected has Fast 6 looking at a $25 million opening weekend in China. Early estimates suggested the action flick could reach the $29 million mark after posting Universal's biggest opening day in the market. A modest increase over Saturday, however, is revising that figure to the $25 million range.
Sources also tell BoxOffice that White House Down will finish its seven-day opening week run in China at an estimated $19 million, a welcome tally for the troubled Sony release. The studio has also benefited from the Chinese market to boost the overseas performance of After Earth, which is expected to finish third weekend in China with a $33.2 million cume
Saturday Update: Sources tell BoxOffice that Fast & Furious 6 managed roughly $7.9 million (48.5 million yuan) on its first day of release in China. That puts F&F6 behind only Iron Man 3's opening day haul of $20 million (121 million yuan) on the list of 2013's best opening days for Hollywood films in China. F&F 6's opening day is also the strongest Universal has ever had in the Middle Kingdom, easily topping the $3 million (18.5 million yuan) opening day of 2012's Battleship. Projections indicate that F&F 6 could end up with $29.4 million (180 million yuan) after 3 days of release in China.
F&F 6's first day ranks 5th overall this year behind Iron Man 3, Journey to the West, Tiny Times and The Switch.
Wednesday Update: If Fast & Furious 6's theatrical run were to end today, its $712.8 million global haul would still be viewed as a massive success.
But Fast & Furious 6's run is not over yet. Far from it. Universal's juggernaut will open in China, the world's second-largest theatrical market, on July 26. This release will be particularly important for Universal following the confusing rejection of Despicable Me 2 by government officials in China.
Sources tell BoxOffice that Fast & Furious 6 could end up with $70 million in China even though rampant piracy--a problem that also hurt such blockbusters as Inception and Skyfall--is likely to hinder the film slightly. A $70 million haul in China would help Fast & Furious 6 hit $800 million globally, and it would also mark a sizable improvement over 2011's Fast Five's $40.5 million haul in the Middle Kingdom.
A wild card for Fast & Furious 6 comes in the form of co-star Dwayne Johnson. Johnson has quite the following in China. 2012's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island roped in a healthy $59 million there, while earlier this year G.I. Joe: Retaliation posted a strong $54 million take.
The global growth from Fast Five to Fast & Furious 6 is staggering. Fast Five revived the property by taking in $628.6 million, and now Fast 6 is running 14.2 percent ahead of it. Universal may not have a superhero franchise like Warner Bros. or Disney, but they've effectively turned the Fast and Furious films into something just as strong. The question now is whether or not Fast 7 can join the club of films that have grossed $1 billion worldwide. We certainly aren't ruling that out.
Logan Krum contributed to this article.