Chinese box office falls under 'Mysterious' spell

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The Independent Culture

While the Peter Chan blockbuster Wu Xia has continued to top the Chinese box office charts, it's the success of a far more modest production that has film industry tongues wagging.

Chan's star-studded epic pulled in a further 52.5 million yuan (5.7 million euros) over the past week for a two-week collect of just over 153 million yuan (16.6 million euros).

With the likes of Donnie Yen leading the cast, Wu Xia was an almost-certain hit for Chan, but the film might be making more if not for the positive word of mouth that has turned the low-budget horror/thriller Mysterious Island into China's surprise hit of the year.

The Chung Kai Cheong-directed film picked up 41.3 million yuan (4.5 million euros) over the past week for a two-week total of 65.6 million yuan (seven million euros).

What's more, the very nature of the film - it follows a group of youngsters who fall foul of murder and other dark arts - will give hope to Chinese filmmakers as they try to compete with blockbusters, as it is notoriously tough for horror films to pass censorship in China, particularly when they feature topics that deal with the supernatural.

China's answer to the rash of Hollywood's 3D animated features, Legend of a Rabbit, meanwhile made steady if unspectacular progress, taking 12.1 million yuan (1.3 million euros) from its first week of release.

But with Transformers: Dark of the Moon opening across the nation Thursday, it may well be that all those productions will be fighting for second place. The first Transformers film picked up 268.7 million yuan (29.2 milion euros) in China while the second raked in 422.9 million yuan (46 million euros).

No prizes for guessing what film is dominating the charts in the rest of Asia, however. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has swept all before it with a long-handled (magic) broom in both Japan and Hong Kong in its first week of screening, taking hauls of US$21.7 million (15.2 million euros) and US$3.6 million (2.5 million euros) respectively.

Mysterious Island trailer: