Week 34 Preview: Award-Winning Arthouse Fare and WWII Victory Films Try To Unseat Terminator

2015/8/25 19:00:00(Beijing Time)    by: Entgroup Consulting

In a crowded field of ten new releases this weekend, four films have the potential to make a dent at the box office, but none will challenge Terminator: Genisys for the top spot.

Fans of high-quality Chinese cinema have their pick of two award-winning films this weekend in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s long awaited martial arts elegy The Assassin and Cao Baoping’s crime drama The Dead End.

Taiwanese master craftsman Hou (Flight of the Red Balloon) brought home the Best Director Award from this year’s Cannes Film Festival for The Assassin, a film that took him nearly ten years to finish. Fans of high-octane kung fu swordplay should sit this one out however, as The Assassin’s slow-moving and ambiguous plot are more in line with literary style than with the usual genre expectations.The Assassin will have its US premiere at this year’s New York Film Festival and has been picked up by Well Go for stateside distribution.

This weekend’s most anticipated release in terms of awareness and intent to purchase according to EntGroup’s EFMT Index, The Dead End follows three men as the law finally catches up with them 7 years after committing and getting away with a horrific crime. Cao Boaping took the Best Director Award and the trio of performers jointly won the Best Actor Award at this year’s Shanghai Film Festival. Based on the impressive cast and its strong preview screenings this past weekend ($0.71M), we think The Dead End will be the only newcomer in the top 3 this frame and the crime drama has the potential to end its run with $40M.

The Hundred Regiments Offensive  is well known in Red China history and the famous 1940 battle between CCP and Japanese forces is getting a big screen recreation in cooperation with state-run Bayi Film Studio. The film’s core audience will be Communist Party officials so we expect high attendance rates the first few days due to group sales. Although comparisons with The Founding of the Republic  which commemorated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC are easy in terms of Communist patting-on-the-back, this film doesn’t feature the same star power and won’t come close to matching its $63 million total.

Also set during World War II, Tale of Three Cities  is a love story spanning three cities over the course of the war. Hong Kong actor Sean Lau (Overheard -$48.25M) and Tang Wei (Finding Mr. Right - $81.38M) play a couple who fall in love in Anhui Province, are torn apart in Shanghai, and are finally reunited in Hong Kong. While the cast certainly has the power to rally supporters, the wartime epic love story has limited box office appeal. Look for this one to gross less than $5 million total.

September 3rd marks the 70th Anniversary of the Allied victory over Japan in World War II and China is commemorating the event as a national holiday complete with a grand military parade in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Several military themed films are also being released to coincide with the anniversary of China’s victory in “The War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression” or “The World Anti-Fascist War” as WWII is known in Chinese.

Jonathan Papish of Boxoffice.com contributed to this article.

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