"The Monkey King" Needs $150M at the Box Office to Break Even

The Monkey King

Chow Yun Fat, star of The Monkey King (along with Donnie Yen and Aaron Kwok), draws the line on sequel possibilities. The $65M adaptation of Journey to the West, one of the most popular novels in China, will need to gross $150M at the box office in China just to break even. If the Soi Cheung directed film can reach that milestone, then both Chow and Yen will return for more adventures.

That’s not an easy feat though. Only two Chinese films have been able to reach that mark: Lost in Thailand and Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, Stephen Chow’s recent adaptation of the same book.

Stephen Chow’s film has already spawned sequel plans, so it’d be interesting to see what happens if The Monkey King becomes a success during the Lunar New Year holidays. We might be getting two ongoing franchises based on the same source material. Can the Chinese audience handle this much monkey business?

Chow Fun Fat’s breakeven calculation is probably based on the fact that Chinese studios only get 40% of ticket sales. 40% of $150M is the budget for The Monkey King. (I don’t think this takes into account the $30M the fantasy film has already sold in foreign distribution rights though.)

Can the film get to $150M? Donnie Yen and Chow Yun Fat are big draws at the box office, and the film’s based on an ultra-popular novel that has never been adapted with this high a budget domestically before. It’s also slated to be shown in 37% of all screens in China, which amounts to about 40,000 screenings. We’ll see how it does when it opens in a couple of days. I think it’ll at least need to break the opening day record (about $13M for a domestic film and $21M for a foreign film) in order for the film to get to its lofty goal.

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