Things heat up for the three-day Tomb Sweeping Holiday as the romantic Let’s Get Married (咱们结婚吧) and the adrenaline fueled Wolf Warriors (战狼）square off in a box office showdown. Both films match up well in awareness and intent to purchase according to EntGroup’s EFMT Marketing Index.
Strongly marketed towards the Post-’80/Post-’90 female demographic, Let’s Get Married stars Gao Yuanyuan (高圆圆) and Jiang Wu (姜武) in the lead up to their wedding day. Gao was featured in the massively popular 2013 television show of the same name, but Jiang has replaced lead actor Huang Haibo (黄海波) after a prostitution scandal. The TV show has been watched nearly 4.3 billion times according to EntGroup’s Online Viewership Tracker so the franchise has a solid fan base already. However, returning director Liu Jiang (刘江) promises a standalone story so both diehard fans of the tv show and new viewers alike can enjoy the film.
Prowling into theaters on the same day, Wolf Warriors is an action film geared towards the corresponding male demographic. In his second directorial effort, martial artist Jacky Wu (吴京) also stars as a disgraced army commando expelled from his squadron who is then admitted into a mysterious special force known as the “Wolf Warriors”. British martial artist Scott Adkins from The Expendables 2 also makes an appearance and should bring in Chinese fanboys obsessed with that American action series.
Other films coming out this holiday weekend include Insanity, a psychological thriller which is garnering buzz for Sean Lau’s acting, Midnight Garage, a horror film based on a Hong Kong urban legend about a haunted parking garage, and Outcast starring Nicolas Cage which was held over from October.
Aside from Let’s Get Married and Wolf Warriors duking it out for the top spot, look for a strong hold from this weekend’s #1, Kingsman, and perhaps another good showing for Cinderella going into its fourth week of release.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (王牌特工: 特工学院) dominated China's box office this weekend as predicted, grabbing $24.29M including Thursday midnight screenings. The opening is on par with Cinderella's (灰姑娘) from 2 weekends ago. The Disney fantasy dropped to third place last weekend thanks to a strong debut from domestic pic Lost and Love (失孤), but jumped back into the second spot this weekend. Cinderella has now mopped up $66.47M in 17 days of release in China. See below for the rest of the Top Ten with numbers from ChinaBoxOffice.
Kingsman: The Secret Service won Friday's box office handily, grossing $5.58m behind a strong publicity push that brought Colin Firth to Beijing to meet his fans. The action film appeared on 30% of China's screens and took in nearly 50% of Friday's total ticket sales. Following in a distant second, Andy Lau's Lost and Love scored $1.46m to total $28.1m in 8 days of release. Cinderella continued its third week in magical form taking bronze and beating out Tak3n. The Magic Kingdom's fantasy has now made $58.5m in the Middle Kingdom.
In late 2012 and early 2013, a lowish budget buddy road trip movie directed by and starring Xu Zheng (徐峥) took the Chinese box office by storm. Lost in Thailand (泰囧) ended up grossing over $200m and is still the highest grossing Chinese domestic film in box office history. Yesterday, a teaser for the long-awaited sequel was released on the Chinese internet. The teaser can be found below with English subtitles.
Several questions fans had been eagerly anticipating the answers to were revealed in the teaser including the film's location, Hong Kong, and the leading actress, Zhao Wei (赵薇). Zhao is sure to add to the box office draw as she is widely seen as one of the mainland's most bankable actresses (四大花旦). Her Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection (画皮II) from 2012 is #21 on the all-time highest grossing films list ($115m), and the following year saw Zhao's directorial debut, So Young (致我们终将逝去的青春) take the #18 spot with $115.8m.
Lost in Hong Kong (港囧) hasn't been given a release date yet, but expect it to show up on middle kingdom screens during the National Holiday week of October 2015 or Chinese New Year 2016. The original also had a short domestic run here in the US pulling in $57k and averaging $1,111 per theater in its opening weekend. Look for a larger opening for Hong Kong both here and in China given the huge success of the first film.
Police in the city of Dongyang, Zhejiang Province near Hengdian World Studios, one of Asia's largest movie studios, are demanding all entertainment personnel to sign "anti-drug commitment letters" before they report for work. (Link in Chinese) A recent rash of drug related arrests has hit the entertainment industry with actor Wang Xuebing (王学兵) taken into custody on March 10th in Beijing for suspected use of crystal meth as the latest. (Link in Chinese) Wang will costar in the upcoming adventure comedy, A Fool (一个勺子), which is set for release on May 1st. However, his run-in with the law could complicate matters as China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and TV (SARFT) has taken a tough stance on bad behavior in the industry. In September, SARFT issued a statement strongly urging television and film production companies to ban performers who use drugs or solicit prostitution. We will have to wait and see how producers deal with Wang and SARFT's missive, and how that will affect the film's strong pre-relase buzz ahead of its Labour Day Holiday opening.
The April 2nd theatrical release of Let's Get Married (咱们结婚吧) based on the hit television show of the same name, appears to have taken SARFT's advice as lead actor Huang Haibo (黄海波) has been replaced by Jiang Wu (姜武) after the former's fall from grace due to a prostitution scandal. Looking ahead, the movie should still perform well, battling against the action film Wolf Warriors (战狼) and the delayed release of US-China-Canada co-production Outcast starring Nicolas Cage.