China's Most Expensive Film Just Bombed

Producers pull 'Asura' after a disastrous opening weekend
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2018 8:39 AM CDT
A scene from the trailer of 'Asura.'   (YouTube)

(Newser) – The movie is called Asura, and it's seen as the first attempt by China's burgeoning film industry to put out a genuine Hollywood-style blockbuster. One problem: The $110 million movie did so poorly in its weekend debut—it pulled in a mere $7.1 million—that producers yanked it from all theaters Sunday night, reports the Hollywood Reporter. "Deepest apologies to viewers who did not get a chance to watch the film, as well as to all the Chinese and international participants who were involved in its production over the past six years," says a statement from the producers, per the Guardian. The film was intended to be the first in a franchise based on Buddhist mythology, sort of like China's own version of Lord of the Rings, as THR puts it.

The movie even stars Lei Wu, described by virtually every site covering the flop as a "teenage heartthrob." So what happened? Unusually strong competition didn't help, notes the South China Morning Post, but reviews were generally bad across the board. The producers, however, allege that saboteurs deliberately tanked the movie by flooding review sites with one-star slams. Whatever the reason, movie-watchers might get another chance to see the film down the road. "We plan to make some changes to the film and release it again," a rep from lead producer Zhenjian Film told one Chinese news outlet. (Stanley Kubrick reportedly explained the enigmatic ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

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