China of­fers hope for an un­god­lyHol­ly­wood flop

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By XU­FAN

Gods of Egypt, one of the lat­est box-of­fice flops in North Amer­ica, ap­pears to be seek­ing a re­bound in China, ac­cord­ing to some in­dus­try watch­ers.

The $140 mil­lion fan­tasy epic, re­volv­ing around a bru­tal fam­ily feud among Egyp­tian deities, will open in Chi­nese main­land the­aters on Fri­day, around two weeks af­ter its re­lease in Aus­tralia and the United States.

The heavy-on-spe­cial-ef­fects movie will be re­leased here in three forms: Imax3-D, Dmax and 4-D.

Af­ter its dis­ap­point­ing $14 mil­lion de­but week­end in North Amer­ica, most for­eign re­ports called the big-bud­get pro­duc­tion as “this year’s first ma­jor box-of­fice flop”.

De­spite its poor re­cep­tion in English-speak­ing mar­kets, some Chi­nese in­dus­try watch­ers pre­dict it will get a bet­ter wel­come in China, the world’s se­cond-largest movie mar­ket.

Zhang Zhiyuan, a Bei­jing­based box-of­fice an­a­lyst, says Hol­ly­wood’s big-bud­get ac­tion films have a sta­ble and huge fan base in China.

“Al­though its scores on for­eign re­view sites are medi­ocre, or even some­what low, a big num­berof­movie­go­ers­may still buy the breath­tak­ing spec­ta­cle­san­dac­tion— whichare at a high level the do­mes­tic in­dus­try has yet to reach,” he says.

Be­sides, an an­nual quota that al­lows only 34 for­eign movies for gen­eral re­lease in China— based on a box of­fice­shar­ing sys­tem — lim­its se­lec­tion for lo­cals, say Chi­nese film sources.

From the Spring Fes­ti­val’s hol­i­day sea­son to the slow month of March, Chi­nese screens have been dom­i­nated by do­mes­tic ti­tles, ex­cept for Dis­ney’s Zootopia.

Lo­cal movie en­thu­si­asts are “thirsty for Hol­ly­wood con­tent”, says Zheng Ye, pro­duc­tion head of the Shang­haibased stu­dio Fun­da­men­tal Films, which has close con­nec­tions with Euro­pean and

re­cent

smash

hit, North Amer­i­can mar­kets.

Set in a mi­lieu of an­cient Egypt where gods and hu­mans co­ex­ist, the 127-minute Gods of Egypt tells the story of amor­tal hero as­sist­ing an Egyp­tian god to fight against his evil un­cle to take back the throne.

The sto­ry­line and con­spir­a­cies are eas­ily un­der­stood by Chi­nese view­ers, whose his­tory over thou­sands of years fea­tures nu­mer­ous royal con­flicts, as some re­views say on Douban.com.

“The tale — still re­volv­ing on the good-ver­sus-evil stereo­type — is a bit bor­ing, but the colos­sal spec­ta­cles de­serve to be watched on the big screen,” Miao Luy­ong, a Bei­jing viewer, says af­ter the Mon­day night sneak pre­view in down­town Bei­jing.

Gods of Egypt’s hopes for a se­cond chance in China are not un­prece­dented.

The 2013 sci-fi ad­ven­ture film Pa­cific Rim, which suf­fered a 52 per­cent slump in its se­cond week in North Amer­ica, and the 2014 ro­bot sci-fi movie Trans­form­ers: Age of Ex­tinc­tion, which re­ceived over­whelm­ingly neg­a­tive re­views there, both achieved com­mer­cial suc­cess in China.

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