China Lion Film reports that Back to 1942 opened to $100,000 from 20 locations over the weekend during its North American debut.
The film, based on an overlooked Chinese famine that caused the death of 7 million people in 1942, stars Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins.
The Huayi Brothers production company came to an agreement with 30 theater chains this weekend regarding director Feng Xiaogang's Back to 1942. The company had been in a dispute with the chains over the appropriation of box office revenue shares for the film.
As part of the new agreement, Huayi will claim 43 percent of box office receipts while theater chains will claim 57 percent if the gross is less than 300 million yuan ($47 million). Should the gross exceed 300 million yuan, theater chains will have the right to a 55 percent share and the remainder will go to Huayi.
In a rare move, Chinese studio Bona Film Group has secured a $20 million credit line through East West Bank in an effort to finance Chinese films with money borrowed from the United States. East West Bank has a history of lending to individual Chinese productions in the past, however, this marks the first time they have provided a loan for multiple Chinese film productions.
A new study by Ernst & Young predicts that the Chinese box office will surpass the North American box office by the year 2020. According to the study, China's media and entertainment industry is expected to grow at an annual rate of 17% in the five years leading to 2015.
That's not bad news for Hollywood considering that American films still dominate in China. It just means more global business. 6 of the top 10 all-time highest grossing films in China are from Hollywood: Avatar ($203.7 million), Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($172.2 million), Titanic 3D ($155.3 million), Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol ($102.5 million), Kung Fu Panda 2 ($95 million) and The Avengers ($91.4 million).
Back to 1942, the latest film from director Feng Xiaogang (If You Are The One 2), shines a light on an overlooked part of Chinese history: a famine in 1942 that led to the death of 7 million people.
With a $34 million budget and a cast that includes Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins, expectations are high for Back to 1942. The drama will not have to open at the same time as any American films, but it will face tough competition from the current #1 film in China: Life of Pi.
Back to 1942 opens in China on November 29 and in North America on November 30.