Blockbuster film nears mainland box office record
Updated: 2013-01-08 07:55
By Huang Ying (China Daily)
The Chinese movie Lost in Thailand could become the highest-ever grossing film on the mainland, after recording ticket sales in excess of 1.1 billion yuan ($176.6 million) by Saturday.
Launched on Dec 12, the low-budget film brought in 93 million yuan on Dec 15 alone, the highest revenue for a single day, according to figures from its owner and producer Beijing Enlight Media Co Ltd, despite costing only 30 million yuan to produce and promote.
The listed entertainment and media company, the sole investor in the film, will get more than 400 million yuan from the huge box office revenue as a result of revenue sharing rules for the Chinese movie industry, according to its President Wang Changtian.
The rules mean that after giving a portion to the government's special movie fund and paying tax, the film's investor can earn as much as 43 percent of the revenue, while theater chains and cinemas take the remaining 57 percent.
Enlight Media's share price has been rising as a result of the film's runaway success. In the past two weeks, its share price rose by more than 60 percent and the market value of stocks held by its president has reached 4.3 billion yuan
According to industry experts, many factors led to the low-budget film's success.
Huang Qunfei, general manager of Beijing New Film Association Co Ltd, one of China's largest theater chains, said: "Originally it was scheduled to be released on Dec 21, but the investor and producers advanced the release date ahead of other rival films."
Set in Thailand, the comedy tells the story of two businessmen, Xu and Gao, who go searching for their boss, and then link up with a tourist eager to explore the country.
The film quickly won the hearts of audiences with its comic style, while other films released at the time were more serious, said Cai Ling, a cultural industry consultant with the Shenzhen-based CIC Industry Research Center.
There is still potential that the low-budget production could eventually overtake the highest-grossing film in China to date Avatar - which reeled in more than 1.3 billion yuan in box office receipts - as its release period has now been extended. Previously, it was scheduled to exit cinemas on Jan 4.
The Lost in Thailand effect has also been expanded to other sectors too, such as online video websites and travel agencies.
The film's Internet rights were first bought by Xunlei Ltd's kankan.com, for an estimated 10 million yuan, said Yang Shuting, an analyst from EntGroup Consulting, a Beijing-based entertainment industry consultancy.
"Kankan.com later distributed the copyright to other online video websites and I think the release of the film on their websites will bring them very high hits," she added.
Wang Liyuan, from the public relations department of iqiyi.com, the online video website owned by China's Internet search giant Baidu Inc, added: "We bought the film's copyright for the Internet and will release it on our video website a period after it stops showing in movie theaters."
But she refused to disclose the price of the deal.
With the film's growing popularity, Thailand has become a popular tourist destination in the coming Spring Festival for many Chinese, especially Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket Island, where the film was shot," said Cai.
(China Daily 01/08/2013 page13)