Space opera ‘Valerian’ takes No.1 spot at Chinese box office

By Wei Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/28 18:18:39


Poster for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Photo: IC

French director Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which bombed in North America, rose to become the weekend box-office champion in the Chinese mainland with a three-day take of 190 million yuan ($28.60 million) - more than what the film made in North America its first week ($23.82 million from July 21 to 27), according to box office tracker Box Office Mojo.

While the non-Hollywood space epic performed poorly in the US, it seems that Chinese audiences have shown great interest. The EuropaCorp blockbuster has topped the daily box-office charts since its premiere on Friday, while its rating on Chinese media review site Douban has risen from a 6.7/10 (1,328 viewers) to a 7.2/10 (21,859 viewers). By comparison, Valerian has a 6.7/10 on IMDb and a 5.5/10 on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Valerian's reputation was ruined by foreign media. It is at the very least the best visual experience film of the year. The imagination on display is great," netizen Paco wrote on Douban, giving the film four out of five stars despite admitting the story is weak. 

"It was really enjoyable. The film made the audience feel like we were really in space… the imagination of the scriptwriter was amazing. The plot may be old fashioned, but it made people feel that this galaxy really exists. It was the best film I've seen recently, better than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2," Jiang Jianni, a 24-year-old filmgoer from Chongqing municipality, told the Global Times.

However, not every review has been positive.

"Similar to many of Luc Besson's other works, the film was full of childish ideas… The beautiful special effects are an excuse that audiences use to forgive him, but it really is just a fairy tale for adults," Netizen Liu Dake from Beijing posted on Sina Weibo.

Despite the fact that the Chinese mainland is going to be a major box-office contributor to Valerian, it's unlikely that the $177-million production will turn a profit, as its total box office outside the Chinese mainland currently sits at $132.86 million.

Despite facing challenges from imported films, Chinese action flick Wolf Warrior 2 clung to second place with 107 million yuan. So far the film has made a total of 5.4 billion yuan at the box office and is expected to stay in theaters until the end of September.

Opening the same day as Valerian, Disney's Cars 3, which has roughly the same grades as Valerian so far (7.2/10 on Douban and 7.0/10 on Mtime), was left behind in third place with 70.74 million yuan.

Baby Driver, the other new film that premiered Friday, ranked fourth with 63.85 million yuan.

Rated R in the US, the crime action drama has decent reviews in China (7.3/10 on Douban and 7.7/10 on Mtime) despite the mainland cut being three minutes shorter than the original.

The weekend marked the first time that imported film have screened in mainland theaters since Illumination's animated film Despicable Me 3 released on July 7.

Next weekend will see even more foreign competition in the form of Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk and the Japanese live-action remake of manga Gintama, while Marvel/Sony's Spider-Man: Homecoming arrives on September 8. 

Newspaper headline: Visual feast

Posted in: FILM

blog comments powered by Disqus