China’s State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film, and Television announced it will ease restrictions on 20 of its responsibilities. This movement includes a stipulation to allow film scripts that deal with “general topics.” Beijing News reported earlier this morning that general topics include anything that does not discuss “religion, ethnic groups, foreign affairs and other special topics,” quoted from “a source close to SARFT.”
The red-tape cutting also officiates the need to submit a synopsis of the production for approval. Prior to this movement, productions were required to submit entire scripts for approval. Industry site FilmBusinessAsia reports that this has been an informal practice for at least three years, which has now been made official.
Other rule relaxations include simplified approval processes for co-production film equipment. Local branches can now approve film festivals with single-nation focuses rather than having to be approved by the central Beijing branch. Equivalently, regional branches may now approve DVD manufacturing.
This move could also expand possibilities for more foreign productions.
Key names in China's entertainment industry declare Hong Kong as the "gateway" to China at Think Asia, Think Hong Kong event. [Film Business Asia]
Is the hyper-materialism in Tiny Times a step backward for women? [The Atlantic]
China's Huading Awards partner with leading U.S. company Don Mischer Productions. [China Daily]
French comedy heading to Chinese theaters Wednesday. [China]
A crash-landing at the North American box office might have been unexpected for After Earth, but there always the hope that the film could change its luck overseas. Will Smith and son/co-star Jaden took off on a lengthy worldwide promotional tour for the film as Sony waited anxiously for the global numbers to come in. After Earth hit 5,218 screens in China six weeks after it opened in its first overseas market, South Korea. The sci-fi flick closed its run in South Korea with $3.4 million, well below the $10.1 million earned by Oblivion in the same territory. If the $197 million overseas cume from Tom Cruise sci-fi vehicle is used as a reference point, then After Earth would need a big push from its Chinese release to help mitigate the damage suffered at the North American box office.
A $13.89 million opening weekend was enough for After Earth to claim the top spot in China's weekly box office chart, according to figures from EntGroup. The film's total represents three days of release in the territory and accounts for 2,587,773 admissions. The China premiere allowed the film to break the $150 million overseas mark, giving it a $157.5 million overseas total and a $216.8 million global cume. If it can hold well in the coming weeks, After Earth might be able to reach a healthy $35 million total in the market.
Sci-fi has proved popular in China all summer. The market represents nearly a quarter of the $222.5 million overseas total from Star Trek Into Darkness ($57M) and became the only overseas territory where Oblivion broke the $20 million mark, bringing in $23.7 million of the Tom Cruise vehicle's $197 million overseas gross.
China also has the reputation of "saving" several recent Hollywood box office disasters. Rob Cain, an authority on the Chinese film industry, previewed the film's opening in the territory with a think-piece considering After Earth's box office potential in China. Cain points out China's role in helping recent North American fiascos like John Carter and Battleship cross the $200 and $300 million global marks, respectively. John Carter grossed $73.1 million in North America and was rescued by a $42.1 million China run that took its global total to $201 million. Battleship fared better overseas, posting a mere $65.4 million in North America and a $50.1 million total from China that raised its global tally to $303 million.
Johnnie To's Blind Detective finished its first full week of release in second place with a $12.62 million total to bring its Chinese cume up to $26.55 million. Already a smash hit, Tiny Times recently announced an August 9 release for a sequel. That's less than two months after the premiere of the current box office hit, which has grossed $75.73 million in 18 days. Man of Steel is closing out its run in China, ending the week with a $4.17 million take. The Superman reboot has grossed a total of $62.51 million in China. Man of Tai Chi, the Chinese co-produced directorial debut of Keanu Reeves, fell flat in its premiere last weekend. This week's numbers were equally as poor; Man of Tai Chi earned $1.18 million in its first full week in theaters to take its Chinese total to $4.28 million.
Weekly Box Office Results for China.
Data Courtesy of EntGroup.
A sequel to a controversial film will hit Chinese theaters on August 9. The sequel to Tiny Times will hit theaters less than two months after the original's release. [China Daily]
CGV orders second biggest IMAX screen deal in history, accelerates IMAX growth in China. [Variety]
Five Greater China actors have been cast in Hollywood blockbuster productions. Included is Han Geng, who joined the cast of upcoming Transformers 4. [Film Business Asia]
After Earth was going to need a big push overseas if it wanted to mitigate the damage it suffered at the North American box office. It has been a good summer for sci-fi abroad, with Oblivion posting a $197 million overseas cume and Star Trek Into Darkness earning $222.5 million outside of North America. After Earth hasn't reached those heights yet, but a $13.8 million opening in China after being released on July 11 will be enough to push the film past the $150 million overseas mark.
The $13.8 million debut isn't necessarily a blockbuster opening for After Earth and is unlikely to carry the film to the heights of recent blockbusters like Tiny Times ($77.4M) and Man of Steel ($65M). The gross is similar to last week's Blind Detective premiere, which grossed $13.9 million from a Thursday opening. Blind Detective held well in its second week of release, grossing an additional $12.6 million to reach a $26.9 million cume, according to a story from The Hollywood Reporter.
Man of Tai Chi tumbled further down the chart this week. The directorial debut of Keanu Reeves flopped in its opening frame last week and posted an underwhelming $1.8 million this week to bring its cume to $4.42 million.
Check back with us later this week for a full report on the Chinese box office.