Patriotic war action film “Wolf Warriors II” has become the top grossing film ever released in China. After 12 days in theaters, it stands on a total of RMB3.44 billion, or some $506 million.
Directed by and starring action star Wu Jing, the film sees a Chinese soldier stumble into an African war zone and save dozens of lives, from western mercenaries. Alongside Wu, it stars Marvel’s Frank Grillo, Celina Jade, Wu Gang and Zhang Han.
“Warriors II” was released on July 27 and has dominated theatrical proceedings ever since — both within China and on the global charts. Although the film has barely had only a minimal international release to date, it has been the highest grossing film in the world for the past two weekends, beating Hollywood new releases and holdovers.
“Warriors II” takes the Chinese box office crown by overtaking last year’s “The Mermaid,” by established hit-master Stephen Chow which last year earned RMB3.39 billion. It also relegated this year’s “Furious 8” to third place with its total of RMB2.67 billion.
The film’s performance is remarkable that it comes in mid-summer. The biggest Chinese hits have traditionally come from Chinese New Year (January-or February) or December releases.
It provides a welcome fillip to the overall Chinese box office, which this year had crawled along at a growth pace of just 4% in the seven months to July. And it redresses the balance between Chinese and imported films in Chinese theaters.
Chinese authorities frequently attempt to engineer market share dominance for Chinese-language films. But, aside from a crop of popular Chinese New Year releases, Chinese-made movies have this year struggled to connect with Chinese audiences as well as the top Hollywood titles. “Warriors II” was released in one of the so-called blackout periods in which major foreign movies are not allowed to be released in Chinese cinemas.
Significantly too, the film is an unapologetic and muscle-bound pro-Chinese actioner, with simple moral messages and plenty of bullets, bent metal and broken heads. In this respect it has proved a far more successful piece of propaganda than the official propaganda film “The Founding of an Army” which was released in Chinese theaters on the same day and has grossed only $50.3 million. Both films riff off the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Liberation Army.
“Warriors II” was released day and date in North America by Well Go USA and has grossed $1.10 million to date.