THE­WATCH BE­GINS

Hol­ly­wood’ first main­land re­lease in 2015, may be­come a hit with Chi­nese fans. Xu Fan re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

It­may have been the fan­tasy of many Chi­nese fans to hang out with the hu­man and an­i­mal char­ac­ters from the Hol­ly­wood block­buster Night at the­Mu­seum se­ries, and the oc­ca­sion came just as last year was end­ing. First re­leased in 2006, the movie is based on a chil­dren’s book by the same name, and tells the story of a night watch­man’s ex­pe­ri­ences atNewYork City’s Amer­i­canMu­seum ofNat­u­ralHis­tory.

The pro­duc­ers of the third in­stall­ment, Night at the Mu­seum: Se­cret of the Tomb (2014), held an ex­hi­bi­tion tour on Dec 30 at the Beijing Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, where nearly 1,000 peo­ple turned up de­spite the cold. The vis­i­tors, mostly teenagers, were heard scream­ing in ex­cite­ment when­ever they bumped into mod­els dressed as lead character Larry Da­ley or oth­ers such as the Egyp­tian pharaoh Ahk­men­rah and Sir Lancelot.

Dozens of di­nosaurs fash­ioned after those shown in the movies, craned their necks and bared their teeth to eye-pop­ping re­sponses from au­di­ences in the mu­seum’s di­nosaur park, filled with dra­matic light­ing. The fans’ only dis­ap­point­ment was that peo­ple who played the hu­man roles weren’t the real ac­tors and ac­tresses from the se­ries.

On Jan 4, Night at the Mu­seum: Se­cret of the Tomb, also be­came the first Hol­ly­wood movie to open for gen­eral screen­ing on the main­land this year. It is ex­pected to run for around a month.

The 108-minute 20th Cen­tury Fox pro­duc­tion topped the Hong Kong box of­fice last week, gross­ing 32.2 mil­lion Hong Kong dol­lars ($4.15 mil­lion) from Dec 11 to Dec 28, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports. Douban, a ma­jor Chi­nese movie re­view web­site, gave the ad­ven­ture com­edy 7.1 out of 10 points.

A key fea­ture of the lat­est movie is the fierce bat­tle be­tween Sir Lancelot andXian­gliu, a myth­i­cal mon­ster snake with nine heads, whose ref­er­ences can be found in the an­cient Chi­nese text Shan Hai Jing (Clas­sics of theMoun­tains and Seas).

Back at the Beijing event themed on the Ben Stiller-star­ring fran­chises, fans were seen strolling through the mu­seum’s African gallery, where “Maa­sai herders” showed off their hunt­ing skills with tra­di­tional weapons, and “Charles Robert Dar­winthe”, a famed Bri­tish sci­en­tist, spoke to­his au­di­ences about evo­lu­tion­ary trends at a nearby hall for an­i­mal spec­i­men dis­plays.

“It’s a fam­i­ly­movi­ethat de­lights adult­sand kids. We have been try­ing to ex­plore in­no­va­tive ways to draw the at­ten­tion of Chi­nese movie­go­ers. Thanks to the Beijing Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, fans can get an amaz­ing night sim­i­lar to the ad­ven­ture in the movie,” says Shen Hui, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of 20th Cen­tury Fox (Beijing) Con­sult­ing.

She tell­sChina Daily that the stu­dio col­lab­o­rated with the mu­seum when they heard it had started a tour in­spired by the fran­chise back in 2006.

The Night at the­Mu­seum tril­ogy in­cludes Night at the­Mu­seum: Bat­tle of the Smith­so­nian which was re­leased in 2009.

Li Jian­wen, deputy cu­ra­tor of the mu­seum, says that the tour on Dec 30 was sold out within two hours of the coun­ters’ open­ing.

“A mu­seum usu­ally records the his­tory of civ­i­liza­tions and the de­vel­op­ment of na­ture. We ap­pre­ci­ate that the Night at the­Mu­seum movies pro­vide an in­ter­est­ing and vivid way for au­di­ences to know more about na­ture and his­tory,” Li adds.

ABei­jing fam­ily, amongth­enu­mer­ousthat ap­plied for a lucky drawre­lated to the Dec 30 tour, arenowwait­ing to know if they will win a “sleep­over” tour at London’s Bri­tish Mu­seum, where the third in­stall­ment was filmed in parts, ac­cord­ing to Shen.

With the most sig­nif­i­cant se­cret re­vealed at the mu­seum’s Egyp­tian Sculp­ture Gallery, the lat­est movie, di­rected by Shawn Levy, moved­most of its lo­ca­tions fromNewYork to London.

Hol­ly­wood’s in­creas­ing in­ter­est in the fas­t­ex­pand­ingChi­nese mar­ket is only likely to go up in 2015, as a sle­wof big-bud­get se­quels are lined up for screen­ing, in­clud­ing Avatar 2, Juras­sic Park 4 and Fast & Fu­ri­ous 7. Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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