Chinese Box Office: "The Last Stand" Opens with Weak $1M, "Special ID" at $17.4M, "The Wolverine" at $25.7M

The Last Stand

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first solo effort since leaving office in California was Korean director Jee-Woon Kim’s “The Last Stand.” It opened in the U.S. in January of this year with a weak $6.3M and finished its run with just $12M, about a fourth of its $45M budget. Worldwide, it has taken in $37M so far.

China is probably the last big market that Schwarzenegger’s actioner is opening in. It debuted yesterday with a flaccid $1M, which means it’ll probably end the week with $5M-$6M. I don’t expect the film to finish its run with much more than $10M, which would boost its worldwide total to $47M. Since studios only get about 50% of the worldwide gross, Lionsgate will lose at least $20M -- and this doesn’t even include the marketing cost - unless it can make up for it on video.

Donnie Yen’s “Special ID” is doing slightly better than “Wu Xia” (aka “Dragon”) did in the same number of days. After a week, the Mixed Martial Arts cop thriller has locked in $17.4M, a couple million ahead of “Wu Xia.” The latter finished its run with about $26M in 2011, so Yen’s latest might have a chance to reach $30M, which would be his best since “Ip Man 2” (2010).

“Special ID” is the third film in Yen’s trilogy of MMA films that includes “SPL” and “Flashpoint.”

If I remember correctly, “Flashpoint” only did about $4.5M in China about five years ago. I’m not sure if “SPL” even played in that region, but in Hong Kong it pulled in a pretty weak $0.9M. Both of those films opened before “Ip Man” turned Yen into one of Asia’s biggest stars though.

Yen was the first action star in the East to incorporate MMA into his films and made it look cool and exciting. To me, that's what separates him from Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Tony Jaa. At the time, those films were mostly dismissed in the region, but they eventually gained followings in the West.

With the success of “Special ID,” I’m glad Yen’s finally getting a large audience to see a movement he helped popularize in cinema.

Since opening last Thursday, “The Wolverine”’s total is now at a stellar $25.7M. I think this should push its worldwide total pass the $400M barrier, pretty damn good for a movie budgeted at just $120M.

Tsui Hark’s “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon” is at a staggering $97.2M (591M Yuan). Huayi Brothers, the studio behind the film, have raised theater owners' cut of the revenue from ticket sales to 70% in hopes that they would continue to play the film until it reaches 600M Yuan ($99M). At its current rate, I’m not sure if it’ll get there.

I don’t see anything on the horizon that could match the performance of Hark’s fantasy film until “The Monkey King” opens next month. The $65M budgeted (the most expensive Chinese film since Zhang Yimou’s “Flowers of War”) adaptation of “Journey to the West” stars Donnie Yen, Chow Yun Fat, and Aaron Kwok. It’ll need to attract at least $162M worth of ticket buyers just to break even because studios only get about 40% of the box office in China.

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