Back in February, Chinese authorities made good on a promise to crack down on exhibitors who manipulate box office figures, banning nine movie theaters from screening new films. A further seven are now facing the same punishment. Those numbers may be a drop in the bucket in a country of over 18,000 screens, but it’s a sign the government is serious about keeping tabs on the booming, and heavily regulated, industry. On Monday, the China Film Producers’ Association and the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association issued a statement saying the theaters had used a dual software system that enabled them to sell tickets without registering the real takings to one uniform system, the Xinhua news agency reports. In January, State authority SAPPRFT issued a memo spelling out new regulations that demanded all commercial cinemas upgrade their software to a national digital ticketing platform before May 1. Increased scrutiny at the turnstiles is a reaction to what’s believed to be a long-held industry practice of hiding income from the government which takes a 3% value-added tax on revenues as well as a 5% film fund tax. The seven cinemas involved this week are facing an indefinite suspension. It’s not clear whether they were able to cash in on X-Men: Days Of Future Past‘s fantastic opening this weekend, nor if they will get to ride Godzilla‘s coattails when he arrives on June …
It was definitely a happy Chinese New Year for IMAX on Friday. The giant-screen exhibitor said local-language hit The Monkey King grossed $1.8M on January 31, breaking China‘s opening-day IMAX record of $1.5M set by Iron Man 3 last year. The 3D martial-arts pic from Filmko Pictures and China Film Group took in $20M throughout China on Day 1, also breaking IM3′s mark. IMAX said its Chinese theaters took in $4.5M for the three-day holiday weekend. New Year celebrations continue through the week.
Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about whether China’s boffo box office can sustain its remarkable growth rates of recent years; a potentially important Sino-British trade accord on film and TV production and what that might mean for U.S. film and TV production; the very warm welcome in South Africa for epic biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom; and whether a U.S. legal settlement for singer Cheryl Cole might pave the way for her return as a judge on the UK version of The X Factor or even on ITV’s newest music competition, Rising Star.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Girls Impact The World, Dubai Fests Partner On Filmmaker Prize; ‘The Wolverine’ Tops In China; More
Girls Impact the World And Dubai Fests Team On Film Prize
The Girls Impact the World Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival have partnered to offer a new prize, the DIFF Prize for Advancing Women and Girls. The prize will be awarded to an aspiring student filmmaker from the Middle East and North Africa region for a short original film on an issue related to the advancement of women and girls globally. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award. The submission deadline is December 31. Entries will be judged by a panel that includes Jeff Skoll, Christy Turlington-Burns, actor Ian Somerhalder, and Paley Center CEO Pat Mitchell. The winning submissions will be screened — and the final winner selected — at an awards ceremony at Harvard College on February 22. Guidelines and entry requirements can be found here.
‘The Wolverine’ Claws Its Way To $14.4M Opening In China
Fox’s The Wolverine opened in China this weekend, taking $14.4M from Friday through Sunday. After four days in release, it had earned $18.3M through last night, according to FilmBizAsia. The film was No. 1 at the box office and outperformed 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which earned a total of $13.2M. The Wolverine was ahead of Donnie Yen’s new Chinese entry Special ID, which opened on Friday to $10.9M. Last week, magic/heist thriller Now You See Me was the top pic at the box office, but fell sharply in its second weekend, FBA said. Tsui Hark’s hot Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon, is closing in on $98.5M and Huayi Brothers Media Corp said Monday that it was lowering its box office revenue share from 43% to 30% in an effort to get the film across the line.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Fast & Furious 6 opened #1 in China on Friday and is on track for a $24 million first weekend which would be that country’s 2nd highest three-day 2013 debut behind Iron Man 3. It also scored Universal’s highest ever opening in that territory after grossing $6.9M Friday. This helps makes up for the studio’s inability to lobby the Chinese to release big toon hit Despicable Me 2 there. China is the 66th territory where Fast 6 opened #1 (including North America). The estimated international cume through Saturday is $485.3M and Fast 6 should cross $500M at the overseas box office tomorrow. Domestically, the cume through the weekend is an estimated $237.6M and the global worldwide gross is projected at $740.8M through Sunday. China is the last stop for the pic which has become Universal’s highest grossing franchise in the studio’s 101-year history.