Hollywood’ first mainland release in 2015, may become a hit with Chinese fans. Xu Fan reports.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org