Welcome to China Film File, a weekly brief on the business of movies in China. In this week’s news: X-Men overtakes China, casino mogul James Packer turns to the Chinese film market, and a new film goes after Tiny Times‘ audience.
Last weekend, X-Men: Days of Futures Past conquered box offices worldwide, and with mainland ticket sales close to $40 million, China’s market proved no exception. With a release bolstered by promotional trips to the east by star Hugh Jackman and the casting of Chinese star Fan Bingbing, the film’s release inched past the watermark set by the last superhero megahit, Captain America. Ranked behind the popular import was Zhang Yimou’s historical drama Coming Home, which pulled in close to $20 million over the same period.
(Box office results courtesy of Box Office Mojo.)
With over 40 million followers on Weibo, the popular literary enfant terrible Han Han recently dropped a trailer for his upcoming film Hui Hui Wuqi (“Until we never meet again”). On the mainland, Han and his pop memoirs are considered rivals in the young adult market to Guo Jingming and his original novels behind the Tiny Times film series.
Produced by Bona Film Group, here’s the trailer for Hui Hui Wuqi, which already gained over 1.5 million views in its first few hours:
It looks like Australian casino mogul James Packer is getting into position to enter the Chinese co-production market. Packer’s production company RatPac has already financed a $450 million dollar project with Warner Brothers, and in a recent interview he addressed a potential future of business on the mainland:
“Obviously the Chinese people will enjoy Chinese culture so I am hoping that RatPac figures out a way to look at doing things and we’ll do it in a small way and a considered way, if we do it.’’
China’s production company Kylin Films has invested $20.5 million into American production The Moon and the Sun, which, as it stands, is the largest injection of cash from China to a foreign production. Interestingly, the film does not officially qualify as a co-production, however, the producers hope that the government might bend the rules because of the film’s compelling Chinese elements. Set in the royal court of France in 1682, the film stars Pierce Brosnan, and the 3D epic’s producers have cast Fan Bingbing as a mermaid in hopes of gaining traction on the mainland.
On the casting decision, the starlet recently remarked, ‘‘Normally I play normal people but lately I’ve been playing mutants and mermaids. It’s a really fresh and interesting experience [but] it’s really cold.’’
While Chinese execs at this year’s Cannes festival were reported to be involved in much more partying than investing, Variety ran a festival wrap-up covering mature deal-making that did occur involving mainland nationals. One transaction at the prestigious festival included the establishment of the first Chinese-New Zealand co-production, The Wonder 3D. The most talked-about deal has probably been the announcement of a forthcoming Zhang Yimou production in Hollywood, however, Zhang’s producers at LeVision have yet to finalize a studio deal.