U.S.-Chinese Audiences Flip For ‘Pancake Man’

Pancake Man, Jean Claude van Damme
Courtesy of Wanda Pictures

Pancake Man,” a Chinese spoof of the superhero genre, has claimed the second largest first week for a mainland Chinese in North America.

The film (aka “Jianbing Man”) earned $419,933 in its opening frame to Thursday (Aug 30) night, just short of the $427,523 figure of last year’s “Break Up Buddies.” “Pancake Man” however enjoyed a vastly superior per screen average, of $30,537, having been released on 14 screens, compared with 29 for “Breakup Buddies.”

The film’s North American release is handled by Asia Releasing on behalf of rights holder Magnum Films. The distribution was timed so as to create near day-and-date synchronization with the film’s China release, a tactic intended to minimise piracy and maximize the chances of getting North America’s ‘overseas Chinese’ audiences into theaters.

“Pancake Man was released in China on July 17 and, although it failed to reach number one in the chart, broke records for the biggest opening weekend by a 2D film. After 15 days it currently stands on a cumulative total of $157 million, according to data from Entgroup.

“Pancake Man,” which is a Wanda Pictures release in China, is the tale of a street pancake vendor who gains super powers from the breakfast dishes he serves. It is directed by Da Peng and stars Chinese actors Ada Liu (“Badges of Fury”) and Yuan Shanshan (“One Day”) and includes Hong Kong comedy favorites Eric Tsang and Sandra Ng. Jean Claude van Damme makes a number of cameo appearances that are key to the plot.

Taking the opposite approach to the day-and-date release is The Weinstein Company, which last week announced that its neo-noir thriller “Shanghai” will be given a limited release on Aug. 21, 2015. The film has been sitting on the shelf since 2010. The troubled film was originally to have been shot in China, but was refused a shooting permit and instead was largely made in Thailand. Starring John Cusack, Gong Li, Chow Yun-fat and Ken Watanabe, “Shanghai” had its release in China in June 2010.

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