Powered by "Flowers of War" and "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate," China Passes India to Become 3rd Largest Film Industry

I skipped a week analysing “The Flowers of War” and “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” box office figures. In that past week, China has became the third largest film market in the world, and “War” has passed “If You Are The One 2” to become the third highest grossing Chinese film of all time in China.

The Flowers of War
Today, new box office figures were posted on EntGroup.cn. Zhang Yimou’s “War” did $11.3M for the week of Jan 02-08 for a total of $88.5M after 25 days. In the same amount of time, “Let the Bullets Fly” took in $93.8M, so “War” is about $5.3M behind. At this rate, it’s unlikely it'll break “Bullets”’s record, especially with a handful of big releases coming up: “The Great Magician” (Tony Leung Chui Wai), “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (Robert Downey Jr.), “The Viral Factor” (Jay Chou, Nicolas Tse), and “All’s Well, Ends Well 2012” (Donnie Yen). That is, unless the producers really want to break the record, then they can convince exhibitors to keep it in theaters for awhile and just throw more marketing dollars at it. Yimou’s war epic is currently the third highest grossing film of all time in China, behind “Let the Bullets Fly” ($103M) and “Aftershock” ($96M).

Tsui Hark’s “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” starring Jet Li pulled in $10.8M last week. It’s total is now at $79.4M. It also went past “If You Are The One 2” to become the fourth highest grossing of all time. Li’s martial arts epic has now outgrossed each of his solo Hollywood productions in the U.S. His best there being 2000’s “Romeo Must Die” which did $56M at the North American box office. With both his salary and film productions in China outperforming Hollywood’s, I wonder how much more of him we’ll see in Hollywood after “The Expendables 2.” My guess is probably not much.

Thanks to “Flowers of War” and “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate,” China had another record year at the box office. Total revenue rosed 30% from $1.5B in 2010 to $2B in 2011. China now ranks as the third larget film market in the world, behind the U.S. and Japan. It just passed India, which had an off year. In 2010, India’s film market pulled in $2.2B. Last year, they had a slump, and the only figure I can find is the $1.65B mentioned in The Hollywood Reporter. With $10.1B in total revenue from theatrical releases in 2011, the United States is still by far the biggest. Even with the earthquake and tsunami disrupting theater attendance in 2011, Japan will likely still manage to pull in more than $2B. I couldn’t find any figures yet, but in 2010, Japan’s total film revenue is $2.5B.

At its current rate, China will probably pass Japan in another two years. Next year, I’m looking forward to a couple big movies. The first being the $63M “The Monkey King 3D” starring Donnie Yen and Chow Yun-Fat. The second is, of course, “Chinese Zodiac,” Jackie Chan’s return to action filmmaking. I have a feeling “The Monkey King 3D” will end up being 2012’s top-grossing movie because of its scope and the talents involved.

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