Chinese Box Office: "The Grandmaster" Reaches $40M; "Lost in Thailand" Inches Closer to "Avatar"'s Record

The Grandmaster

Wong Kar-Wai’s “The Grandmaster” topped the charts for another week with $13.7M, upping its total to a spectacular $39.5M after two weeks. It’s now the top earning Ip Man film in China, beating the $32M gross of the Donnie Yen-starring “Ip Man 2.” That’s pretty impressive, considering Yen’s films were the ones that popularized the martial arts master who taught Bruce Lee.

“The Grandmaster” has surpassed “Hero” ($30M) to become Zhang Ziyi’s best performer in China (excluding her cameo in “The Founding of a Republic”), and Tony Leung Chui-Wai’s second best behind John Woo’s “Red Cliff” ($46.7M). It’s very likely that it will pass “Red Cliff” in the coming weeks.

Now the question is will the success of “The Grandmaster” spawn sequels? Wong did spend more than a decade developing it; I’m sure he had lots of ideas that didn’t make it to the film. It would be interesting if we get two franchises based on the life of Ip Man: an artsy, pensive version from Wong, and a low-key, kick-ass version from Wilson Yip.

In second place this week with $13.4M is a surprise hit that almost topped the charts: “Bring Happiness Home,” a low-budget comedy about a dog that got separated from its rich owner. Yeah, I don’t think any of you care either. Either way, it’s good to see a chart-topper that’s not a huge, expensive production headlined by big stars.

Third and fourth place went to “Chinese Zodiac” and “Lost in Thailand,” with $8M and $4.9M, respectively. In total, “Chinese Zodiac” has collected $135M. “Lost in Thailand” is at $196M. I’m not sure it can still beat “Avatar” ($204M). It’ll get close.

“The Last Tycoon,” starring Chow Yun Fat and Sammo Hung, is currently at $23M, a solid performance. You just can’t compare it to “Chinese Zodiac” or “Lost in Thailand”; it’ll distort your perspective. Movies don’t make $100M in China often. Last year was a special year, in which three Chinese films passed that barrier.

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