China's Most Expensive Film Could Prove Its Biggest Movie Flop

Brunilde Fioravanti
Luglio 17, 2018

There were huge expectations for the big-budget fantasy film Asura, which cost a whopping 750m yuan (£85 million) to make.

Producers are reportedly planning to rework the movie and release it again at a later date.

The film's official social media account released a statement that theaters would no longer screen the fantasy-epic late Sunday night.

The film's official Weibo account announced the news on Sunday, with producers offering "deepest apologies to viewers who did not get a chance to watch the film, as well as to all the Chinese and global participants who were involved in its production over the past six years".

But then a Zhenjian Film spokesperson told Chinese news outlet Sina, "This decision was made not only because of the bad box office".

Alibaba Pictures, along with investors Zhenjian Film Studio and Ningxia Film Group, chose to yank the movie, China's most expensive ever made, after it bombed over the weekend.

USA blockbusters like "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" have faced Rotten Tomatoes sabotage, and "Asura" producers say something similar happened on China's leading mobile-ticketing apps and a Chinese review aggregator, according to The Hollywood Reporter - another social-media post said the movie had received several 1/10 scores. Another social media post alleged that the movie received a number of 1/10 scores.

"Named after the triple-headed demigods of Buddhist mythology, Asura stars 18-year-old heartthrob Wu Lei as a shepherd who turns out to be the reincarnation of one of the heads of a warrior king - also called Asura - aiming to invade heaven (Tony Leung Ka-fai and Carina Lau Kar-ling play the other two heads)", the newspaper writes.

Even so, that apparently was not enough to make up for a poor reception from the movie-going public: on the Chinese review site Douban.com, it got 3.1 out of 10.

"Based on our tracking, prerelease market heat for this movie was quite low - below average", Fankink told THR.

Whatever the case, it will be hard to make a comeback after this dismal start if the movie is indeed released again - but maybe audiences in China will be a little more curious about it now.

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