Tuesday, December 20, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (12/12 - 12/18): Epic battle between The Flowers of War and Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. The Flowers of War(金陵十三钗)150m ($23.55m)New54,8043,663,898150m ($23.55m)
2. Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 3D(龙门飞甲)142.5m ($22.37m)New56,0863,269,098142.5m ($22.37m)
3. White Vengeance(鸿门宴)15.7m ($2.46m)-69.8%30,738484,867149.9m ($23.53m)
4. Sector 7(深海之战)5.46m ($0.86m)-65.2%12,117155,33421.16m ($3.33m)
5. Three Idiots(三傻大闹宝莱坞)4.7m ($0.74m)-36.5%9,749146,87412.1m ($1.90m)
6. Priest(驱魔者)4.2m ($0.66m)-67.7%8,461116,05437.8m ($5.94m)
7. The Adventures of Tintin(丁丁历险记)2.75m ($0.43m)-70.7%3,92672,828130.95m ($20.62m)
8. Jump! Ashin(翻滚吧!阿信)2.3m ($0.36m)-32.4%7,66277,2335.7m ($0.90m)
9. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus(魔法奇幻秀)2.08m ($0.33m)-74.0%5,65670,10417.78m ($2.80m)
10. Magic to Win(开心魔法)2.06m ($0.32m)-72.5%5,91669,31319.86m ($3.12m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1570)

Here comes another epic December battle between domestic films. Last year it was between Jiang Wei's Let the Bullets Fly and Feng Xiaogang's If You're the One 2; this time it's Zhang Yimou's adaptation of the famous Chinese writer Geling Yan's popular novel against Hark Tsui's 3D visual feast of his wu-xia world. What makes this encounter even more fascinating is 1) both are expensive by Chinese film-making standard: Flying Sowrds of Dragon Gate cost $35m, while The Flowers of War is the most expensive Chinese film ever made with $100m; 2) Unlike Let the Bullets Fly and If You're the One 2 where they were released a week apart, these two are going head-to-head by releasing on the exact same day. Both are filled with star power as well, with Christian Bale headlining one and Jet Li leading the other.

So the result? Almost a tie for the opening 4 days. Flying Swords has the help of 3D screens, but The Flowers of War is enjoying some of the best word-of-mouth the Chinese audience has ever given to a Zhang Yimou's film. Some are saying he has finally made one as good as those of his 1990s' endeavors such as To Live and Raise the Red Lantern. Long term I expect The Flowers of War to pull away (and will challenge $100m total), but the holding power of 3D could keep the race interesting. The next few weeks should be exciting to follow.

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