Twin-tower walker takes China’s box office by surprise
In 1974, Frenchman Philippe Petit walked illegally on a high wire strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
Very fewChinese back then knew about it. But today they are watching The Walk, a Hollywood film based on the dizzy feat. Going by the money generated and online reviews, they seem to be enjoying it.
The 2015 film premiered on the Chinese mainland on Friday and quickly beat domestic rivals to take the second-highest slot in the January box office.
Cbooo.cn, a live box-office tracker, says TheWalk that stars JosephGordon-Levitt in the role of Petit, grossed 52.7 million yuan ($8 million) from the Chinese box office by Monday, following Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which made 762 million yuan.
Major movie-review sites in China, such asDoubanand Mtime, gave TheWalk scores around 7 on a scale of 10.
“The last 30-minute walk on the wire, around 400 meters above the ground, is both horrifying and breathtaking,” Huang Yuanqing, a Beijing viewer, said after watching last Thursday’s preview for media and a limited audience.
“I had to clench my fists to conquermy anxiety.”
Interestingly, a number of other watchers called the biopic drama “more like a horror film”, as the 3-D visual effects are almost real-life, making audiences protagonist.
In the film’s most nerve-tingling moments, Gordon-Levitt’s Petit realizes his dream of getting on the world’s then-tallest buildings. In stunning scenes, he is seen kneeling, lying, dodging the police or simply looking at crowds on the streets below.
Film critic Zhou Lei likens The Walk to a “love letter” exchanged between the erstwhile twin towers, brought down in terrorist attacks in 2001.
But Chinese moviegoers are unlikely to easily relate to the film’s Western humor, such as the main character’s awkward French accent while speaking English, says Zhou.
For most Chinese fans, Oscarwinning director Robert Zemeckis’
“walk” with the helming of this film and the presence of Gordon-Levitt are good reasons to flock to the cinemas.
Zemeckis’ reputation in China can be traced back to Forrest Gump, his 1994 epic that influenced many Chinese.
Alibaba’s founder JackMa, one of China’s tech magnates, revealed in an earlier interview that Forrest Gump encouraged him to go ahead with his business pursuits even in the face of many obstacles, the Chongqing Evening News reports.
The film is said to have also played a significant role in his decision to invest in the film business.
Gordon-Levitt’s popularity in China rose in 2010, whenhe acted in the sci-fi thriller, Inception, which is still among the country’s mostviewed foreign films.