EX2 BEATS BATMAN AND SPIDER-MAN, EX3 IS IN THE WORKS
China's battle of the superheroes ended up being won by ... a group of aging action stars.In a surprising outcome, "The Expendables 2" has outgrossed both "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" in China.
The ensemble action movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li has grossed $54 million in China as of Sunday, according to research firm Artisan Gateway. "The Expendables 2" opened in the world's most populous nation Sept. 4.
"It's phenomenal what's happening in China with this movie," said Avi Lerner, whose Millennium Films made "The Expendables 2."
Millennium hoped to make the sequel with a Chinese partner, but the co-production deal fell apart at the last minute, Lerner said. The co-production rules treat such films as local productions, not foreign films. Such an arrangement would have given Millennium an even greater share of the film's Chinese revenues.
"The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," which Chinese authorities scheduled to open in a controversial head-to-head matchup one week earlier in China, have grossed $52.5 million and $48.5 million there, respectively.
China Film Group's decision to open the Spider-Man and Batman films on the same date was a move by the state-owned firm to limit the box office receipts of U.S. imports, which have far outpaced local productions in the first half of the year. Those were among the most popular pictures of the year in the U.S. and Canada. Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight Rises" has grossed $445 million domestically, while Sony Pictures' "The Amazing Spider-Man" has collected $262 million.
"The Expendables 2" has grossed a much more modest $84 million domestically. In China, it's the eighth-highest grossing film of the year, while "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" are No. 9 and No. 10, respectively. "Titanic 3-D" remains No. 1 with $146 million.
Artisan Gateway President Rance Pow said ticket sales for the two superhero films were limited because they opened against each other. Twentieth-Century Fox's science-fiction picture "Prometheus" opened a week later, on Sept. 2.
By contrast, no other big-budget American import opened against "The Expendables 2" on Sept. 4, and none have opened since. No others are scheduled until "The Bourne Legacy" on Oct. 25, as China appears to again be in the midst of an unofficial "blackout period," during which no American films are being imported.
Raymond Zhou, a film critic for China Daily and other publications, attributed the success of "The Expendables 2" to the popularity of ensemble casts, which are common in Chinese productions -- the ensemble includes Hong Kong action star Jet Li and Chinese actress Yu Nan -- and local audiences' enthusiasm for stars who are considered more over the hill in the United States.
“This is a perfect movie for Chinese audiences," he said. "Just like over-the-hill singers can find a market in Vegas, over-the-hill movie stars can find a market in China."
The original "Expendables" was a surprise success in China, grossing $32 million. However, producer Millennium was not able to secure one of the country's coveted quota slots for imported movies, which allow producers to share in box office revenue, but generally no more than 24% of a film's gross ticket sales. Instead, Millennium sold the first "Expendables" film outright to a local distributor for about $600,000.
This time, Lerner said, Millennium should take home about $10 million from China for "The Expendables 2," and he hopes the returns will be even better for a third "Expendables" film, which is now in the works.
"You have to remember," Lerner said, "once China likes something, they keep going."
The two big things to take out of that article. Expendables 2 beat two other 'MAJOR' releases and the other MUCH BIGGER THING "a third "Expendables" film is now in the works". Further proof that it is coming guys, we just have to be patient.
GRUDGE MATCH GETS THE GREEN LIGHT
Warner Bros has set Kevin Hart to play the fight promoter who gets two retired brawlers back in the ring in Grudge Match. Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone are now set to play the fighters who square off in the ring, and the studio has greenlighted the film that will be directed by Peter Segal. Entourage architect Doug Ellin wrote the most recent script draft and Billy Gerber and Mark Steven Johnson are producing with Michael Ewing. Hart is hot stuff after Think Like A Man, but the draw here will be to see Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta from Raging Bull go at it in a grudge match. When I moderated a Tribeca Film Festival panel for Universal’s 100th birthday with De Niro and Judd Apatow, De Niro said he didn’t really see himself recapturing the killer shape he got into when he starred in Raging Bull and in Cape Fear. Now, he’s playing a retired fighter, but I’ll bet De Niro puts back on the six-pack, knowing that at 66, Stallone is always jacked.
I have to be honest, this film holds very little interest for me. I'll probably check it out but I'm definitely not counting the days until its release. Get Sly and De Niro in an action film together and you've got my attention.