20 items from 2015
“Tiny Times 4.0” stormed the Chinese box office with an opening four day weekend of $58.4 million. It took top spot in the chart and deposed Chen Kaige’s “Monk Comes Down a Mountain,” which ruled for just one week.
The new film had the best opening of any of the tween-oriented “Tiny Times” movies and achieved that score despite the lowest per-ticket average price — $5 – of any of the top ten movies. To achieve that total it sold 11.7 million tickets, according to data from Entgroup.
Distributors have kept the franchise humming through smart use of big data and social media. They are now reported to be planning another canny move: the release of an ‘extended version’ later this week.
“Monk” saw a 41% week on week slip and earned $22.9 million as it slipped to second place. After 11 days its cumulative total stands at $60.7 million.
New opener “Monkey King: Hero Is Born” debuted in »
- Patrick Frater
Chinese director Chen Kaige talks to Liz Shackleton about balancing commercial and creative concerns in the world’s fastest-growing film market.
Chen Kaige, who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1993 for Farewell My Concubine, tackles the martial arts genre for the first time in Monk Comes Down The Mountain, which Sony co-produced with local production houses New Classics Media Corp and Beijing 21st Century Shengkai Film.
Based on a novel by martial arts writer-director Xu Haofeng, the film stars Wang Baoqiang (Lost In Thailand) as a Taoist monk who is forced to leave his temple and live in the big city, where he meets a series of ‘masters’, some well-meaning, some evil, as he attempts to figure out his role in the real world.
While the underlying »
- email@example.com (Liz Shackleton)
Chen’s conventional, but light, martial arts action drama earned a solid $38.2 million in four days from 5.83 million admissions, according to data from Ent Group. The picture has many of the ingredients for success – it is based on a well-known series of novels, has a starry cast that includes Aaron Kwok, supermodel turned actress Lin Chiling, and “Lost in Thailand”’s Wang Baoqiang, playing against type.
The film also benefits from the annual summer blackout period which is largely reserved for the releases of new Chinese titles. With the period starting in mid-June this year, new Hollywood films seem unlikely to be released until the end of July.
The waning competition from Hollywood saw “Jurassic World” lose 50% and slide to third place as »
- Patrick Frater
In this week’s round-up of the global box-office scene:
Poor Us opening for Terminator Genisys offset by international growth
96% female audience for Magic Mike Xxl kills its box-office chances
Is Chen Kaige’s martial-arts hit the new Crouching Tiger?
Paramount’s method of spinning the hot mess that is Terminator Genisys is telling. When it became clear on Friday night that the film’s debut at the Us box office was going to be seriously under par, the studio stopped using previous Terminator films as comparison points and opted instead for 2011’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – a yardstick that, other than the fact that both are PG-13 action films, seems rather arbitrary in terms of tone and cinematic heritage. What Paramount didn’t want widely pored over was that, even unadjusted for inflation, $28.7m is the lowest Terminator opening since the low-budget original’s $4m in 1984. Instead, they were »
- Phil Hoad
Launches of Paramount’s “Terminator: Genisys” and Universal’s “Minions” lifted the international box office this weekend as the tentpoles pulled in sturdy performances.
Paramount saw $74 million from international markets for the weekend — led by Russia at $12.5 million, South Korea at $11.1 million and Mexico at $6.6 million — for a foreign cume of $85.5 million from 60% of all overseas markets.
Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore told Variety that “Terminator: Genisys” should have enough firepower internationally to finish in the $300 million to $400 million range in foreign grosses — three to four times the expected U.S. final total. The film opens next week in Germany, Italy, Germany and Spain; it has not yet been dated for the booming Chinese market.
The international performance is crucial for “Terminator: Genisys.” Paramount and Skydance spent $155 million on the fifth “Terminator” and have two more entries in the franchise coming in 2016 and 2017.
The fourth film, “Terminator: Salvation,” took »
- Dave McNary
Tracing a Taoist priest’s foray from his hermit-like existence into the secular world, Chen Kaige’s “Monk Comes Down the Mountain” is an uncharacteristically lightweight martial-arts caper with a touch of Zen (and sin). Told in the old-school tradition of wuxia serial novels, the film’s simple fable of good and evil unfolds with wondrous visuals that recall the stylistic chutzpah of Chen’s “The Promise,” but absent that pic’s kitschiness. The feast of fighting styles on display will easily woo core Asian genre fans and conquer ancillary markets, and despite the gloomy fates of equally virtuoso martial-arts movies like “Wuxia” and “Reign of Assassins” in China, domestic B.O. looks encouraging; “Monk” took in $7 million on opening day.
Based on a widely read martial-arts novel by author-helmer-scribe Xu Haofeng (“The Sword Identity,” “Judge Archer”), who co-wrote Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster,” the film is set in Hangzhou during the turbulent 1930s. »
- Maggie Lee
The martial arts epic, which stars Aaron Kwok, Lin Chiling, Wang Baoqiang and Fan Wei, is set for release in China on July 3.
The story sees famine and hardship force a young monk to leave his Taoist temple in the mountains, plunging him into an unknown outside world. Treating everything in good faith, he ultimately is betrayed, though he finds strength in the teachings of his former Master: A true hero will achieve his goals, regardless of means, if the desire is great enough.
“The continued expansion of the Imax network in China goes hand-in-hand with the important partnerships curated between Imax and Chinese filmmakers like acclaimed director Chen Kaige,” said Greg Foster, senior executive VP, Imax Corp., and CEO of Imax Entertainment.
It also stars Jaycee Chan, »
- Patrick Frater
Mike Tyson and Jeffrey Katzenberg were among the foreign celebrities on hand Saturday at the opening ceremony of the Shanghai International Film Festival. Jackie Chan and Fan Bingbing were among the biggest local names.
The 18th edition of the festival runs June 13-21 at a festival center controlled by Shanghai Media Group, the adjoining Crowne Plaza hotel, and at venues around Shanghai, China’s business capital. The opening ceremony was held at the Lyric Theater, downtown.
Organizers promised 400 stars on parade. Chinese and regional talent on the walkway included Aaron Kwok, Donnie Yen, Eddie Peng, Simon Yam and Thailand’s Tony Jaa. Directors present included Chen Kaige, Raymond Wong, Dante Lam, Japan’s Shunji Iwai and Derek Yee, »
- Patrick Frater
Film composer Patrick Doyle, best known for his work with the actor/filmmaker Kenneth Branagh, as well as his recent scores for Disney’s “Cinderella” and Pixar’s “Brave,” will be presented with the World Soundtrack Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th annual World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium.
The World Soundtrack Awards, taking place this year on Oct. 24, is the culminating event of Film Fest Ghent.
“Anyone who can still recount hearing Doyle’s score for Kenneth Branagh’s debut film ‘Henry V’ in 1989 for the first time, knows that back then a great composer was born,” said Patrick Duynslaegher, artistic director of Film Fest Ghent, in a statement. “The immensely versatile Doyle enriched the films by Robert Altman, Ang Lee, Chen Kaige, Alfonso Cuarón and Brian DePalma with his alternating tragic, »
- Steve Chagollan
The partners are moving ahead on their local-language co-production and Chinese remake of the rom-com in a move that will resonate with the global vision of new Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman.
Principal photography is scheduled to commence in late July on location in London, Italy and Beijing.
My Best Friend’s Wedding centres on a journalist who sets off to London to visit her lifelong best friend and win his heart after he announces he is to be married to a wealthy Chinese girl.
Hong Jiu, Fu Linran and Tan co-wrote the screenplay.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with Columbia Pictures on this »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Kay)
Sony Pictures and China Film Co. Ltd. are developing a Chinese remake of the romantic comedy “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and setting it for release in China on Valentine’s Day 2016.
The film will star Shu Qi (“Gone With The Bullets”), Feng Shaofeng (“Wolf Totem”), Song Qian (“My New Sassy Girl”) and Ye Qing (“Man of Tai Chi”). Alexi Tan (“Blood Brothers”) will direct and produce with his company, Play Productions.
Shooting is set to begin in late July in London, Italy and Beijing.
The remake will center on a pair of journalists — male and female — who have grown up together as best friends. The man falls in love with a wealthy Chinese girl who has been studying in the U.K, and asks his »
- Dave McNary
The new facility, dubbed Animal Logic Vancouver, will initially be launched as an exclusive partnership to produce three animated movies — starting with “The Lego Movie Sequel.” The Canadian studio will begin operations in September at 45,000 square foot facility in the Yaletown area and is expected to create 300 new jobs with launch of production on the sequel in January.
Animal Logic is already working on a pair of Warner Bros. animated films — Lego spinoff “Ninjago” (set for Sept. 22, 2017) and “Lego Batman” (set for Feb. 10, 2017) — at its headquarters in Sydney. It did not disclose which titles it will be producing in Vancouver after “The Lego Movie Sequel,” which is set for release on May 18, 2018.
- Dave McNary
Australia’s biggest ever delegation to the Beijing Film Festival includes producer Alan Lindsay, who is seeking Chinese partners for the animated family film Piccolo The Dolphin Prince, written and directed by Greg Mclean, whose gory breakout film was Wolf Creek.
“It is Romeo and Juliet set in the world of dolphins,” said Lindsay, who is managing director of Vue Group. Since Mclean brought him the concept two years ago there has been considerable R&D on the dolphin characters and continued development on the underlying theme of the human impact on dolphins.
Lindsay will also be meeting with potential partners on Silver Spoon (working title), which he describes as “Downton Abbey set in Shanghai during the turbulent 1930s”. The live action drama inspired by real life focuses on a Chinese family that owns a lavish department store and once lived in Australia.
Lindsay regards China as his “second home” and has developed many partners there. His latest »
- Sandy.George@me.com (Sandy George)
More than 50 Australian producers and screen industry representatives are heading to China for the 5th Australia-China Film Industry Forum (Acfif) and the Beijing International Film Festival and Beijing Film Market.
That.s the largest ever delegation from Australia, including VFX and post-production businesses and federal and state government officials.
Co-hosted by Ausfilm and Screen Australia, the forum is part of the Beijing Film Market.s Industry Conversations program.
Two panels of Australian, Chinese and international producers and screen industry decision makers will discuss opportunities for co-production, locations, studios, facilities and visual effects, and. focus on Australia.s federal and state incentives for international production.
The participants will include Ellen Eliasoph, president/CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, director/producer Pauline Chan, Alex Sangston, Screen Australia.s senior manager, producer offset and co-productions, »
- Don Groves
The album features original music by Patrick Doyle (“Brave,” “Thor”) marking the eleventh time Doyle has teamed with director Kenneth Branagh. The score was recorded at Air Lyndhurst Studio in London, and was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Shearman and produced by Maggie Rodford. The film arrives in theaters on March 13, 2015.
Patrick Doyle’s long-time creative collaboration with Branagh began in 1989 with “Henry V.” The film’s song ‘Non Nobis Domine’ was awarded the 1989 Ivor Novello Award for Best Film Theme. In 1991, they re-teamed for “Dead Again,” which earned Doyle a Golden Globe-nomination. Subsequent collaborations include “Frankenstein,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “As You Like It,” “Hamlet” (for which Doyle received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score), “Sleuth,” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.”
- Michelle McCue
Even before the Berlin festival is over, and the Oscars remain under wraps, the thoughts of many executives have turned to Cannes.
At this stage, the selectors of Cannes different sections have seen very little, so there is no such thing as a certainty.
Following some of the chatter and looking at which films might have the right credentials comes up with a strongly international selection for Thierry Fremaux and his team to choose from.
Fellow Italian, and previous Palme d’Or-winner Nanni Moretti, has “My Mother” (aka “Mia Madre”) while Paolo Sorrentino’s Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel-starrer “Youth” (aka “La Giovinezza,” aka “In the Future”) is also a strong competition contender.
Buzz is strong for “The Lobster,” the English-language »
- Patrick Frater
A run-of-the-mill student romance set in Beijing on the cusp of the millennium, the popular “Back in Time” reinforces how much the young demographic it targeted holds sway over China’s commercial market. Drawing a familiar arc of high schoolers falling hard in love, then drifting apart in college, mainland helmer Zhang Yibai knows how to reshuffle winning elements from other hits, but comes up short in terms of evoking anything vibrant, sensuous or heart-tugging. “Time” cruised past “The Crossing” to earn $90.7 million in 27 days, outperforming John Woo’s shipwreck epic almost threefold.
Ever since Vicky Zhao’s “So Young” used a two-part structure to paint a rosy picture of campus days in stark opposition to the cruel disappointments of adulthood, nearly every mainland youth romance, from Frant Gwo’s “The Old Classmate” to Snow Zou’s “But Always,” has glorified the innocence of puppy love and bemoaned adult life. »
- Maggie Lee
Paris – Co-productions with the world’s fastest growing film market, China, was the subject of this year’s 15th Dream Industry (Feb. 4-6), integrated within the Paris Images Trade Show.
The event included round tables with representatives from French and Chinese film agencies, directors and producers, and a master class with guest of honor, Chinese helmer Wang Chao (“Fantasia”).
Discussions provided fascinating insights into the different working models prevailing in France and China, and how industry players have come to terms with this complex reality.
Key French-Chinese coproductions discussed during the event included Wang Chao’s romantic tale, “Looking for Rohmer,” Jean Jacques Annaud’s epic production, “Wolf Totem,” Pascal Morelli’s animation feature, “108 Demon-Kings,” Philippe Muyl’s “The Nightingale,” Pengfei Song’s “Les Vagabonds de Pékin”and Emmanuel Sapolsky’s “The Eye of Silence,” plus Zoltan Mayer’s 100% French production, “Voyage to China,” and Leon Lai’s Chinese action comedy, »
- Martin Dale
The move, announced Wednesday, comes six years after Imagi Animation Studios released “Astro Boy” as a $65 million CGI film, based on the mangas and anime series by Osamu Tezuka and voiced by Freddie Highmore. Worldwide grosses hit $40 million.
Astro Boy first appeared in a Japanese manga series from 1951 to 1968, selling over 100 million manga copies worldwide. The character was also turned into TV series in 1980 and 2003.
“It’s going to be a blast relaunching Astro Boy as a robot superhero for the new millennium,” Nalbandian said. “Known and loved universally, Astro is the embodiment of wish fulfillment for young and old, »
- Dave McNary
They didn’t make our final Top 100 cut, but here is a list of foreign film titles that are on our radar for 2015. We being with…
198. Kills on Wheels – Dir. Attila Till
197. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend – Dir. Yuen Woo-ping
193. Flaskepost – Dir. Nikolaj Arcel
192. The Lady in the Van – Dir. Nicolas Hytner
191. Zoom – Dir. Pedro Morelli
190. Away from the Sea – Dir. Imanol Uribe
188. Ulrike’s Brain – Dir. Bruce La Bruce
187. Tsunami – Dir. Jacques Deschamps
186. And Your Sister? – Dir. Marion Vernoux
185. There Was Las Vegas – Dir. Alexandre Castas
183. Stepne – Dir. Maryna Vroda
182. Irreplaceable – Dir. Olivier Masset-Depasse
181. Histoire de Judas Iscariot – Dir. Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche
180. The First, the Last – Dir. Bouli Lanners
179. Selection Officielle – Dir. Jacques Richard
178. Desierto – Dir. »
- Nicholas Bell
20 items from 2015
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