According to Forbes, Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior 2 is now bigger at the Chinese box office than the domestic total for Avatar.

Wait, what?

Ugh. Math.

Basically, you know how our biggest movie of all time is Avatar, James Cameron’s Dances with 3D Aliens that grossed $760 million domestic and was then promptly forgotten by popular culture within 2 years? Yeah, China’s new biggest movie of all time just passed it, ending its most recent weekend with $768.5m. Their domestic leader is now bigger than our domestic leader. But, ya know, it’s not the size that counts.

Seriously? Dick jokes. Come on. I should be better than that.

Sadly, it’s even more complicated than all that because at the start of the year China started folding online ticketing fees into its box office totals, thus adding, on average, 8% to a film’s overall gross. It’s totally misleading, but it’s the system they’re using and everyone’s just going with it. However, now it means Wolf Warrior 2‘s “record” needs an asterisk because if you take away the online ticketing fees from its total it hasn’t actually made more than Avatar.

OMG, who cares? The larger point here is that China keeps churning out its own local hits that rival our own, and now they have one that’s going toe-to-toe with the highest-grossing movie we’ve ever seen. Eventually, they might not need or want so many of our movies, or Hollywood studios will jump ship and start making more movies specifically for China. For example, you want to keep on craking out those Transformers movies? Fine. Just cut out the middle man already, and go over to China to make one with a Chinese cast and crew. At this point, that’s who you are really making those movie for anyway.

But I digress.

If Wolf Warrior 2 is such a big movie why haven’t we seen it yet? Because Chinese movies rarely make any money over here, or, really, anywhere outside of China. For example, Warrior 2 only has a US/Canada gross of $2m right now. Prior Chinese record holder The Mermaid only pulled down $3m from the US/Canada to go along with its $553 back home. So, if you’re really curious to see Warrior 2 your best bet is probably to just watch the trailer, embedded below:

Wow. That looks…terrible. Terrible in a good way, perhaps, as a delightfully bonkers, over-the-top action movie, but also terrible in that “Oh, Michael Bay, what hath thou wrought?” kind of way. That trailer looks like a parody of the biggest and dumbest parts of a Hollywood action movie except it doesn’t know it’s a parody. That trailer looks like your run of the mill Jason Statham movie. But, hey, it’s nice to see Arrow‘s Celina Jade again. Still, who am I to crap all over China’s new favorite movie? Cultural and language differences and all that. To be fair, 67% of RottenTomatoes critics liked it, but that’s only out of 9 reviews.

What about you? Did that trailer leave you revved up for action? Or just despairing for the state of cinema in general?

Source: Forbes

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

4 Comments

  1. I just don’t know…it is hard to judge anything by just the trailer. And who knows, perhaps the first movie (this is a sequel, right?) was particularly good and the Chinese with their hyper-controlled internet don’t have the advantage to learn early when a movie sucks so they are still falling the good old sequel rip-off.

    One thing for sure, one of my favourite movie is Peking Opera Blues, a movie, which also had a trailer which looked kind of terrible and nothing like something I would be interested in, and I even wrote and article about it because it has such great main characters. In a way, the movie itself is kind of terrible, or at least, it should be with all the genres just thrown together….

    Anyway, we shouldn’t be snobby about Chinese Cinema. They have produced a number of gems over the decades. And maybe I will hate it if I watch it…but then, I don’t think that any American would get why most Germans are able to Quote Die Feuerzangenbowle, either, or why the Fuk ju Göhte movies are currently such an hit. Sometimes a movie only works for the culture it originated from.

    Reply

    1. “Sometimes a movie only works for the culture it originated from.”

      I know, and I know that you can’t judge a movie by its trailer. This article was largely me in knee-jerk snarky mode, but it’s also just that the trailer looks so bad. When I watch the trailer for The Mermaid I see something that is clearly from a culture different than my own. When I watch this one, though, I see something that is badly mimicking our action movie culture. At least The Great Wall had some truly inventive action sequences and gorgeous visuals. This looks more like a standard action B movie in the over-the-top Expendables mode.

      Reply

  2. I can see a trend here. The top grossing films in North America are the likes of Star Wars, Jurassic World, Avatar and comic book movies. Fantasy/adventure special effects-heavy type of movies. The top grossing films in China looks like a wild mix of Hollywood imports, including two Fast & Furious movies, and their own movies. You also have to consider HK’s long history of making martial arts/action movies. The Mermaid seems to be an exception (maybe because of Stephen Chow’s popularity, not sure) to the rule.

    Reply

    1. “The top grossing films in North America are the likes of Star Wars, Jurassic World, Avatar and comic book movies. Fantasy/adventure special effects-heavy type of movies. The top grossing films in China looks like a wild mix of Hollywood imports, including two Fast & Furious movies, and their own movies.”

      That does about sum it up. There’s very little diversity in the types of movies which rise to the top on North American box office charts, and it’s almost all escapist fantasy and sequels. China has a different mix of its own stuff and our stuff, and many of their homegrown films are starting to put a Chinese spin on the type of action movies we used to make a lot in the 90s.

      Reply

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