• Box Office

China Box Office September 25, 2022

The nonprofit journalism organization restofworld.org is reporting that there are great profits for Chinese creators in reducing Hollywood movies into TikTok videos of a few minutes with the help of machine translation, dubbing apps and VPNs.

As an example, in seven minutes, a video entitled “High IQ woman revenge for cheating husband,” recaps Gone Girl. The Danish Girl is recapped in 48 seconds as “The wife let the husband dress up as a woman, and he is addicted to it.” It got four million views.

Even though TikTok is banned in China, the creators still find a way to post them on the platform. The clips are in multiple languages like German, French and Spanish. As restofworld.org describes, one creator downloads movie and TV clips from Douyin (the Chinese TikTok), writes his summary script in Chinese, using a translation service called DeepL to turn it into English, then adds a voiceover with a dubbing app. He avoids TikTok’s plagiarism detection by changing a few frames. He earns about $1,400 a month from his 10 accounts.

While there have been attempts to crack down on these videos because of copyright issues, these TikTok creators count on the fact that copyright holders outside China are less likely to sue. Some Chinese companies like iQiyi have decided to work with them by considering the clips trailers and adding links under them for the original work. It is likely that American studios may enter licensing agreements with TikTok as well. Restofworld.org quotes Larry Zerner, a copyright and entertainment attorney in Los Angeles that suing the Chinese creators and companies is not worth the effort. “It’s just like you are playing whack-a-mole.”

In other news, Deadline reported that Shanghai Disneyland had a screening of Avatar to coincide with the touring exhibition of “Avatar: Explore Pandora” with a special message from director James Cameron. The immersive experience shows the viewer the landscape of Pandora and the culture of the Na’vi. There will be no wide release in China for the movie in advance of The Way of Water on December 14 as it was already exhibited last year. China is a huge market for the franchise and has earned $260 million for the first film and its rerelease.

Here are the top ten films at the China box office for the very slow weekend of September 23-25.

For two weeks in a row, Give Me Five has stayed at the top of the charts, making $47.37 million in seventeen days of release with $6.15 million grossed over the weekend. The time-travel Chinese film tells of a young man who goes back to the 1980s to help his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father remember his life. It is directed by Zhang Luan and stars Chang Yuan.

The animated Xin Shen Bang: Yang Jian (New Gods) stays at No. 2 by the end of the weekend, making $71.63 million in 38 days of release with a three-day take of $2.74 million. It is directed by Ji Zhao and stars voice actor Kai Wang. Gkids has acquired the rights for both Chinese and English-dubbed versions for theatrical distribution in North America next year.

Moon Man, the Chinese sci-fi blockbuster comedy, is still going strong at No. 3 after two months of release, earning $451.80 million in 59 days with $2.59 million over the three-day weekend.

Table for Six ends the weekend in fourth place earning $2.4 million for a total gross of $11.66 million in 17 days. This Covid holdover comedy premiered at the Far East Film Festival in April where it was nominated for Best Screenplay and is about the complicated relationships of three brothers played out over a family reunion. It stars Dayo Wong, Stephy Tang and Louis Cheung and is directed by Sunny Chan.

Mother-daughter weepie Song of Spring is No. 5 this weekend with a total gross of $10.04 million in 16 days of release with a weekend take of $1.33 million. The film stars Estelle Wu as the mother who takes care of her Alzheimer’s-afflicted daughter played by Xi Mei Juan. It is directed by Yang Lina.

At No. 6 is the animated Quing Wa Wang Guo (Frog Kingdom) about a Frog Princess who runs away from her kingdom dressed as a commoner. It grossed $4.45 million in 16 days of release.

Warriors of the Future, a sci-fi action adventure film climbs back onto the top ten charts at No. 7, grossing $99.43 million in 52 days. The Hong Kong film was three years in the making and is directed by visual effects artist Ng Yuen-fai and stars Louis Koo, Sean Lau and Carina Lau. The plot deals with a killer plant called Pandora that crashes into Earth in 2055 and ravages everything in its path.

Hero stays at No. 8 with a total of $7.93 million over 17 days of release. It is the first film in the Chinese film industry made entirely by women. The film is co-directed by three women – Li Shaohong, Joan Chen and Sylvia Chang, and produced by a woman, Jennifer Wenjie Dong. It is in the form of three short interconnected stories simultaneously unfolding in Hong Kong, Beijing and Wuhan and tells of the challenges ordinary people faced at the onset of Covid in 2020.

The military thriller Wolf Pack, comes in at No. 9, earning $3.98 million in 17 days of release. It is described as the story of a mercenary who goes to a foreign country to rescue missing children. It stars Zhang Jin, Aarif Rahman and Jiang Lu Xia and is the directorial debut of Michael Chiang.

Rounding out the top ten, In Search of Lost Time has grossed $4.95 million over 17 days of release. It is based on the true story of the orphans known as ‘children of the country’ that were adopted by nomads in Inner Mongolia between 1960 and 1963 after their families were wiped out in a famine. The film opened the Beijing Film Festival in August and is directed by Derek Yee and stars Chen Baoguo, Ma Su, and Ayanga. 

Minions: The Rise of Gru has fallen out of the top 20.