As Zhang Yimou’s “The Great Wall” nosedives at the American box office with an $18.1 million gross last weekend, its worldwide box-office intake has already almost doubled its budget. Why? Per a report on “The Today Show,” China is quickly becoming the de facto nation for box-office returns. While this trend is by no means new, it is becoming more apparent in the broad blockbusters that are being put in theaters today.
To appease both American and Chinese marketplaces, blockbuster films are becoming less regionally contained and more ethnically diverse. For example, the plot of last year’s “Independence Day: Resurgence” revolved around China and the U.S. teaming up to fight alien invaders and featured noted Hong Kong pop star Angelababy in a supporting role. Additionally, an entire subplot was added to the Chinese version of “Iron Man 3” in which Iron Man is saved by Chinese doctors, and includes an appearance by Chinese star Fan Bingbing. The film went on to have the highest opening weekend ever in China (a figure later later topped by “Furious 7“).
More and more film companies are seeing this growing consumer base and pushing content that has a much broader appeal. You may remember when the remake of”Red Dawn” was released, and the enemies were changed from Chinese to North Korean. The reason? To not turn off the Chinese marketplace. So what this means for blockbuster films is a move towards more centralized filmmaking. Expect to see more films that integrate American and Chinese casts to play for both marketplaces. Even with the disappointing North American returns on “The Great Wall,” expect to see more films like it soon.