Action film in driver’s seat at box office
US action movie breaks records as movie maker booms, Huang Ying reports.
The Hollywood blockbuster Fast & Furious 7, also known as Furious 7, swept through movie theaters in China over the past several weeks, breaking a series of box office records.
Released on the Chinese mainland on April 12, it had grossed more than 2.4 billion yuan ($370 million) in ticket sales by May 12, becoming the highest-grossing film ever in the world’s secondmovie market, according to data from EntGroup Consulting, a Beijingbased entertainment industry consultancy.
The previous record was set by Hollywood action scifi movie Transformers: Age of Extinction, which was released in June and raked 1.97 billion yuan.
In addition to its phenomenal box office take, Furious 7 has broken more than 30 records in the history of the Chinese box office, including single-day and single-month records.
Its real-time box office still ranked top among the movies being shown in cinemas on May 5, with 7.24 million yuan, according to piaofang168. an online provider of real-time box office information.
Its huge success can be attributed to a number of factors that work together, said industry analysts.
“A lack of competing films in theaters during the period when it was shown, the consistency in high quality of the series, and the memorial frenzy incurred by lead actor’s death, all helped to push it to a great success in China,” said Peng Kan, research and development director of Legend Media, a Beijing-based consultancy.
Paul Walker, one of the lead protagonists of the street- racing action film series, died aged 40 in a car accident in Santa Clarita, California, on Nov 30, 2013.
Many moviegoers flocked to theaters the moment the film was released in the Chinese mainland, in the hope of seeing Walker on the screen for the last time.
The film’s marketing campaign also played a role in its rosy performance in box office revenue, said Peng.
A variety of social- networking platforms have been applied for the film’s marketing and advertising activities with the focus on the lead actor’s death, said Shao Gang, deputy director of the consulting business for the entertainment industry at Horizon Research Consultancy Group.
“This has attracted a crowd of the non-target audience to the theaters, and its quality content has in turn propelled the word-of-mouth marketing,” said Shao.
But unlike the common opinion that the film’s solid fan base in China contributes to its success, Shao said that he would rather see it as another triumph of typical Hollywood commercial features. “Furious 7 is a typical Hollywood genre film — it has incorporated a series of core commercial elements, coupled with its great visual impact, dense and fast-paced plot, its brand effect has been developed to great said Shao.
“The growth in the number of screens nationwide over the past years played a very significant role in creating such a record in box office takings for this film,” said Liu Hanwen, director of the Film Institute Development Research Center at the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
By the end of 2012, China had 13,118 screens nationwide. By April this year, the figure had surged to about 27,000, said Liu.
Liu attributed another reason to the fact that Chinese people have largely developed the habit of moviegoing,
levels,” especially after most third- and fourth-tier cities in China are increasingly equipped with cinemas.
“Watching movies has become a major style of entertainment and leisure for Chinese people. And as the statistics can tell, Furious 7 generated a significant box office on weekends, when people go out looking for enjoyment and relaxation. On its first day, which was a Sunday, the ticket sales reached 400 million yuan,” he explained.
The development of mobile Internet makes it possible for people who have finished watching the film to share their feelings about the movie via social-networking platforms, including Wechat, and micro- blogging platforms, with their friends.
“This helps to accelerate the spread of information about this film, as well as prompting more people to flock to theaters,” said Liu, adding that the number of mobile Internet users has reached 900 million in China.
“It won’t take long before this record gets broken by another movie, as the depth and width of China’s film market has developed to an extent where a truly high quality movie could beat the expectation in box office performance,” said Liu.