China's most expensive film pulled after opening weekend

Lawrence Kim
July 18, 2018

Director Zhang Peng (R) and actors Wu Lei (2nd L) and Zhang Yishang attend a promotional event for the movie "Asura" in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China July 2, 2018.

Instead, after Asura debuted to a mere $6.8 million Chinese box office over the weekend, earning back the smallest shard of the reported $110 million it cost to make, producers abruptly pulled it from theaters, stopped marketing it altogether, and suggested they'd haul it in for some editing and another go at a later release, according to Variety.

The move highlights the challenges facing China as it seeks to promote home-grown productions to rival imported Hollywood films.

This would only mark the film as biggest ever flops in the world movie history. -China co-production starring Matt Damon.

Now, producers are apparently planning to rework the film and release it again at a later date in an effort to reduce the £80 million loss.

The film hit cinemas on Friday, but by Sunday the film's official social media account posted a statement saying it would be removed from theaters from 10 p.m. that night.

Before pulling the film, the producers had claimed the low figures were a result of an "organised, premeditated" bid to manipulate numbers, and said people behind it were "contemptible, foolish and laughable".

Alibaba Pictures did not have an immediate comment.

United States blockbusters like "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" have faced Rotten Tomatoes sabotage, and producers claim something similar happened to "Asura" on China's leading mobile ticketing apps and a Chinese review aggregator.

Even as the fantasy movie flopped, another unexpected film with a budget reportedly of around $15 million struck a chord.

But according to The Hollywood Reporter, a Zhenjian Film Studio representative told the Chinese news outlet Sina: "This decision was made not only because of the bad box office".

China, which is on track to overtake the North America film market, has become an increasingly important region for global producers looking to pump up their box office returns, despite a quota on imported films and strict censorship.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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