China Box Office: "The Monkey King" Breaks Opening Day Record with $17M

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In my previous article, I wrote that in order for the $65M budgeted The Monkey King to break even, it would have to reach $150M at the box office in China; and the first thing it must do is break the opening day record.

That, The Monkey King did. The fantasy film, which stars Donnie Yen, Chow Yun Fat, and Aaron Kwok, took in $17M on Chinese New Year, which is a record for a Chinese film. Including Hollywood productions, it ranks third behind Iron Man 3 ($21M) and Transformers 3 ($18M).

This is still no guarantee that The Monkey King will eventually reach $150M at the end of its run, but it’s a great start. $100M is a guarantee though, which would make it Yen’s first entry into the century club. Chow has already been a member with the action-comedy Let the Bullets Fly in 2010.

With the New Year holiday lasting until the end of next week, we’ll see how many more records will fall.

Also, we’ll see if The Monkey King will be able to break the all-time box office record set by James Cameron’s Avatar, which took in $231M in 2010.

Only two other locally produced films are more costly than The Monkey King: Zhang Yimou’s $100M The Flowers of War and John Woo’s $75M Red Cliff.

Although Zhang's war drama grossed nearly $100M at the local box office, it was still a big money loser because only 40% of that goes to the studio.

Woo split his film into two parts and ended up making a decent profit. The two part series, together, made about $80M in China and a surprising $100M in Japan.

In the coming weeks, we’ll see which way The Monkey King will go.

UPDATE: The Monkey King did better than expected: it's opening day gross is actually $20M.

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