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By Robert Cain for China Film Biz
March 27, 2013
For the first time since 2011’s Love is Not Blind, a Chinese romantic comedy has broken out in a big way at mainland theaters. Finding Mr. Right, a modestly budgeted rom-com starring Tang Wei (Lust Caution, Late Autumn) debuted in the number one spot with $12 million in its four-day opening last week, beating out U.S. holdovers A Good Day to Die Hard and Resident Evil: Resurrection.
The plot of the Seattle- and New York-set Finding Mr. Right borrows liberally from the iconic 1993 American film Sleepless in Seattle and its 1957 progenitor An Affair to Remember—even down to the final romantic encounter atop the Empire State Building—in weaving a familiar tale of two damaged souls who heal each other through love.
Produced by Hong Kong’s venerable Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Flowers of War), Finding Mr. Right is the sophomore directing effort of Xue Xiaolu, who also wrote the screenplay. Strong reviews and good word of mouth have propelled the film to successively higher grosses each day, putting it on a trajectory to reach a final gross of at least $40 million, which would make it the second highest grossing romantic comedy in Chinese history after Love is Not Blind’s $55 million.
Although A Good Day to Die Hard provided a brief respite two weeks ago, U.S. and non-Chinese films have yet to shake their 2013 PRC box office doldrums. Both Die Hard and Resident Evil dropped sharply over the weekend, and Jack the Giant Slayer managed just $1.4 million on its opening day this past Monday. Die Hard will likely finish in the mid- to high-thirty millions, down at the low end of the range I had projected for it.
Sunday brought an end to the Chinese run of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which grossed just under $50 million in the PRC, for a rather modest 4.7 percent of its worldwide total. Friday will bring the release of Oz the Great and Powerful, which will encounter some healthy competition from the popular Finding Mr. Right and Drug War, a Chinese crime thriller directed by Johnny To (Romancing in Thin Air, Life Without Principle) that debuts next Thursday, April 4th.
Total nationwide box office amounted to $42 million for the week, a 35 percent increase over the same week last year. Year-to-date China is still running a massive 45 percent ahead of last year, while North America is running 14 percent behind its 2012 total. I’ve often noted on this website that China’s box office will surpass North America’s by the end of this decade. If current trends continue the eclipse will occur by 2019, and possibly even in 2018. It’s becoming an inescapable fact that if you want to succeed in the film business in the near future, you’re going to have to contend with China.
Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.pacificbridgepics.com.
I’ve been pushing the fact that China find it hard to make many global earning features and that they need to include foreign players [actors and stories] in their local films to attract such an audience. On the other hand Is it a coincidence that the Chinese made high grossing films in China are stories set in foreign countries lately, eg. Lost in Thailand and the latest rom com film set in the US “Finding Mr Right”, produced by Hong Kongs Bill Kong and story “borrowed” [lol] from Sleepless in Seattle even down to the last scene, and that they are comedies.
I am writing for made with/in China for a global audience, playing both sides of the coin with an action gangster flick screenplay set in HK “completed”, and currently writing a chick flick set in Beijing and other places in China, “good for tourism” – but hedging my bet with being able to adapt to Cambodia if need be for both films, I’m currently talking with the Cambodia Film Commission about some cross promotion and other film festival stuff for June this year.
I’ve been chasing this dragons tale for several years and think I’m about to pounce, these statistics and insights I get here via this thread have been invaluable to me and keep me informed like no other, many thanks Rob.
I have an exhibition booth at the Beijing film market event 20th – 22nd April and hope this year will show some advancement for my projects.
Keep the info coming Rob, I for one rely on these stats to gauge my own thoughts and predictions.
Keep pushing, Russell. China needs good projects. The audience there is becoming more sophisticated about the local films they’ll choose to see, and quality will ultimately win out.
Thanks for the nudge Rob, I’ll keep pushing.