By Robert Cain for China Film Biz
April 3, 2013
The first quarter of 2013, which ended last Sunday, saw numerous box office records fall in China, including:
- Biggest single-day gross for an individual film: 140 million RMB, Journey to the West
- Biggest single-day cumulative nationwide gross: 190 million RMB, February 14, 2013
- Highest single-day cumulative nationwide admissions: February 14, 2013
- Biggest final gross for an individual film: $201 million, Lost in Thailand
- Biggest single-quarter cumulative nationwide gross: $820 million
After a strong start to the year, China’s pace of growth has actually accelerated, with local films putting up exceptional numbers. Take a look at the day-by-day performance of current box office champ Finding Mr. Right (aka When Beijing Met Seattle):
1 RMB = U.S. $0.161
The low-budget romantic comedy, which was inspired by the Hollywood hit Sleepless in Seattle, has been number one at Chinese multiplexes every day of its run so far, and will easily beat the previous Chinese rom-com record holder, Love is Not Blind, which earned $55 million in 2011. As of Wednesday, Mr. Right stood at $47 million, and now looks likely to hit $70 million before it’s done.
Second place for the week went to the WWII action-comedy, The Chef, the Actor, the Scoundrel, which debuted to a solid $12.2 million in its first three days, handily beating Oz, the Great and Powerful, which conjured up $9 million in its opening weekend, and Jack the Giant Slayer, which managed just $6.7 million in its first seven days. Chef-Actor-Scoundrel continued to play well into the week, and should wind up its run with a $40 million cume. Oz is fading fast and probably won’t do much more than $25 million, while Jack the Giant Slayer will top out at around $10 million.
It’s an impressive feat that the roughly $5 million budgeted Finding Mr. Right will, all by itself, outgross the combined China grosses of Oz, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Jack the Giant Slayer, which had combined production budgets of well over $500 million.
Overall, 2013 box office revenue is running more than 50 percent ahead of last year’s total, despite the lackluster performance of U.S. films, which are dragging the comps down. Hollywood will have several chances to redeem itself in the next few weeks, with Django Unchained opening on April 11th, G.I. Joe: Retaliation on the 15th, The Croods on the 20th and especially Iron Man 3, still undated but likely to open in China somewhere around April 26th, well before its before its U.S. debut.
It won’t be easy going for any of these American films though, as competition from Chinese movies will be fierce. The toughest challenge will come for Iron Man 3, which opens against the April 26th debut of So Young, a romance directed by megastar Vicky Zhao. Based on a popular young adult Chinese novel that is often compared to “Twilight,” So Young is about a young woman’s emotional struggle with two men she meets again years after their on-campus love triangle. Although So Young will be Zhao’s directorial debut, she was mentored by esteemed Chinese directors Tian Zhuangzhuang and Stanley Kwan, and early buzz about the film is highly positive (See the trailer here).
Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at email@example.com and at www.pacificbridgepics.com.