Daniel Radcliffe Starrer ‘Woman in Black’ Falls Flat in Soft Week at Chinese Box Office


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By Robert Cain for China Film Biz

September 25, 2012

Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe couldn’t bring his magic to the China debut of his horror vehicle The Woman in Black, and two new Chinese language releases—Great Rescue and That Year School Ended—failed to connect as China’s box office take slipped last week to $29 million, its lowest level since March.

Although the last four Harry Potter films were solid hits in China, that franchise’s popularity failed to carry over to Woman in Black, which suffered one of the year’s worst openings for an English language film, with $1.45 million in receipts over its first four days. Among 2012’s nearly 50 English language releases so far, only The Lincoln Lawyer, The King’s Speech, A Man Apart and Ninja have fared worse.

Horror still hasn’t firmly established itself as a reliable genre in China. A few modest Chinese language successes like Bunshinsaba ($9.5 million total), Blood Stained Shoes ($7.2 million), and 2011’s Mysterious Island ($14 million), have been outnumbered by flops. It may be that Chinese audiences haven’t yet caught on to the pleasures of a good scary movie, but it’s more likely that the problem lies in China’s censorship strictures, which don’t allow much room for a true horror film, with blood, gore, torture, ghosts, demons, and “excessively terrifying scenes” all strictly prohibited.

On a brighter note for Chinese filmmakers, White Deer Plain out-grossed The Expendables 2 to take the week’s number one spot, the first time in a month that a Chinese film has taken that honor. Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, and the Amazing Spider-Man, all nearing the end of their PRC runs, rounded out the rest of the top five.

Business should be brisk next week as six new Chinese films and the U.S.-China co-pro Looper will open just ahead of October’s Golden Week holiday. Look for the Stephen Fung steampunk comedy Taichi 0 to lead the pack, with China’s divas Zhang Ziyi in Dangerous Liaisons and Fan Bingbing in Double Xposure giving Taichi 0 some serious competition, especially with their female audience appeal. Although Looper’s Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt don’t have major fanbases in China, that movie’s genre, action-SciFi, tends to over-perform in China, so don’t count it out.

Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at rob@pacificbridgepics.com and at www.pacificbridgepics.com

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It’s Action, Action, Action at the Chinese Box Office


Follow me on Twitter @robcain or Sina Weibo @robcain, or connect with me onLinkedIn

By Robert Cain for China Film Biz

September 18, 2012

The top 4 films at the Chinese box office two weeks ago–all Hollywood action films–held their positions again last week to combine for $34 million, or 85 percent, of the total $40 million weekly aggregate revenue at Chinese multiplexes. Action films have now led the Chinese box office for the past five consecutive weeks,

The Expendables 2 led the way with $15 million, extending its total in China to $40 million so far, compared to its final U.S. gross of $80 million. Expendables 2 will likely wind up earning over 20 percent of its total worldwide theatrical gross in China, which will make it one of the three highest indexing U.S. films in China’s history, after Titanic 3D, at 45 percent, and The Mechanic, at 22 percent.

Chinese films have again proven to be weak competitors against Hollywood imports. Since the SARFT blackout ended in late August, Hollywood imports have taken 95 cents out of every dollar spent on tickets by Chinese moviegoers.

Even the highly anticipated Chinese historical drama White Deer Plain failed to unseat the Hollywood leaders, taking in just $3.6 million in its first two days of release. That film, a controversial 3-hour adaptation of a novel by author Cheng Zhongshi, suffered from poor reviews and confusion over its release, which was delayed by Chinese authorities for “technical reasons.” It should see a bump next week as it expands into China’s second- and third-tier cities, but probably won’t be nearly the hit that its backers had hoped for.

In the week ahead the Daniel Radcliffe horror-thriller The Woman in Black will take aim at the chart-topping action blockbusters in its Chinese debut on September 20th. Radcliffe will need to bring along some of his Harry Potter magic if he hopes to dethrone Expendables 2 as the reigning box office champ .

Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at rob@pacificbridgepics.com and at www.pacificbridgepics.com