In the past several months, Chinese comedies Lost In Thailand and Journey To The West have laughed all the way to the bank, becoming the top local hits of all time with over $200M in box office each. In the past several days, a drama has been breaking records. So Young, a nostalgic look at college romance directed by actress-turned-helmer Vicki Zhao Wei, broke opening day records for a 2D Chinese movie on April 26 with $7.3M, beating Lost In Thailand‘s previous high mark. It also bested Journey To The West in advance sales, according to reports. Through Sunday, its cume was $76.72M, per Ent Group data. First-time feature director Wei, a star who’s appeared in such hits as the Painted Skin movies and Shaolin Soccer, also reportedly became the first female director to see her debut pass the coveted 100M yuan mark. The film now faces stiff competition from Iron Man 3, but Wei is apparently taking it in stride. She told China Daily, “I’m given box office figures every other day. I feel OK. I am very satisfied with what we’ve taken. You can’t be too greedy.” Here’s a subtitled So Young trailer:
The Motion Picture Association and the China Film Distributors and Exhibitors Association have released a study that says the film and TV business contributed $15.5B to China’s economy in 2011. Commenting on the report, Mike Ellis, president and managing director of the MPA for Asia Pacific, said, “Chinese audiences are seeking out and enjoying a variety of films, whether they are made locally, internationally or co-produced through collaborative international partnerships.” While box office is predicted to keep building regardless of where films come from, figures released recently by China’s film watchdog confirm what could be a disturbing trend for Hollywood: Local movies are taking a big bite out of ticket sales. The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said last week that homegrown films accounted for 69% of mainland box office revenues in the first quarter of 2013. The shift began with the late 2012 release of comedy Lost In Thailand, which broke about every record possible, went on to become the highest-grossing Chinese title of all time and gave a kickstart to 2013. But despite that movie’s eleventh-hour arrival, local pics still finished 2012 at a four-year low with a market share of only 48%. In the first three months of this year, however, Chinese films made 3.6B yuan ($582M) and six films broke the coveted 100M yuan ($16.2M) barrier. The top film was Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, which earned 1.25B yuan ($202.2M).
Last year, four foreign films were responsible for 56% of total sales in the first quarter. But this year, the only Hollywood pictures to punch above 300M yuan ($48.5M) were Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Xinhua news agency reported. They were followed by A Good Day To Die Hard, Cloud Atlas and Resident Evil: Retribution.
In 2012, the market share for local films in China fell below 50%. That marks the first time in four years domestic pics have hit such a low and comes despite the eleventh-hour surge of homegrown road movie Lost In Thailand, which burned up the box office throughout December. Estimates released this week by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television say that Chinese box office is expected to be $2.7B total for 2012. Overall, that’s a 28% increase on 2011. But at $1.28B, the Chinese share of the pie is down to less than half from 54% last year as Hollywood pics increasingly squeeze out local competition. In November, a SARFT official said the February trade agreement to allow more Hollywood films to screen in China had “shaken” the local business. Still, the year’s top film is the low-budget Lost In Thailand, which broke several records when it debuted in early December. It has now become the highest-grossing domestic film ever in China and reportedly passed the 1B yuan ($160M) mark this week. China’s top-grossing import was the 3D re-issue of James Cameron’s Titanic.
The Chinese-produced Lost In Thailand was made for a reported $3.1M and doubled that on its opening day. With $6.26M on December 12, it set a record for a Wednesday release, says Film Business Asia. It also took $14.9M on December 15, setting a one-day record for a domestic film and set another record for number of screenings with a massive 33,000 showings that day. The road movie, which follows two rival businessmen who travel to Thailand, beat single-day records held by Painted Skin 2, Titanic 3D and Transformers 3, Twitchfilm reports. Its unofficial cume as of Thursday was $72.2M. Financed and released by Beijing Enlight Pictures, the movie was written, produced and directed by Xu Zheng in his feature helming debut. The comedy will nevertheless face strong competition this weekend with the release of Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac and Andrew Lau’s The Guillotines. There’s currently no word of Stateside distribution, but you can click over to see a subtitled trailer: Read More »