Anita Mui biopic arouses nostalgia for legendary Hong Kong star ahead of Chinese mainland premiere
Published: Nov 08, 2021 06:53 PM
<em>Promotional material of Anita Photo: Maoyan</em>

Promotional material of Anita Photo: Maoyan

Anita, a biopic on legendary Hong Kong star Anita Mui, is set to premiere in the Chinese mainland on Friday. The film's eminent arrival has aroused strong nostalgia for the "daughter of Hong Kong" among Chinese moviegoers and many celebrities in Chinese entertainment circles. 

Anita depicts the legendary life of the late singer and actress. Mui began making a living with her elder sister singing and performing at the age of 4 and a half. When she was 19 years old, Mui participated in her first rookie singing contest and won the championship. Through dedication and extraordinary talent, she grew into the superstar of a generation and won the title of "Madonna of the East."  However, her career came to an abrupt end in 2003 when she announced that she had cervical cancer. She died later that year at the age of 40.

Her deep friendship with Leslie Cheung, including their cooperation on the film Rouge and Cheung's death are covered in the biopic.

"Mui is a symbol and representative of Hong Kong's golden age who led the entire Chinese entertainment circle. That's why she deserves her own biopic," Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday.

Many Chinese moviegoers took to social media to pay tribute to the late star, remarking they are looking forward to watching the film. 

Hong Kong celebrities including singer Miriam Yeung and actor Tony Leung have given the film thumbs-up, saying Mui's noble character and professionalism are aspects that all artists should learn. 

Boasting a star-studded supporting cast that includes Louis Koo and Lam Ka-tung, Mui is played by 31-year-old model Louise Wong, who was selected from among thousands of actresses. 

"It took more than six months from the first audition to the final selection. Each time we gave her [Wong] two pages of the script and asked her to come back in two weeks. She has never thought about being a singer, but she sang very well at each audition. I don't think this is accidental but the result of her hard work. Her attitude is the same as Anita's - trying to do her best every time she faces a challenge," the film's director Jiang Zhiqiang told media. 

"The difficulty of filming a biopic comes down to the ability to reproduce the person. If it can't show the real Mui, her fans won't buy it and its word-of-mouth will drop," Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.

According to Shi, the film may not bring in a high box office due to current COVID-19 outbreaks in the Chinese mainland and the resulting closure of cinemas in those areas and new capacity restrictions. Meanwhile, fans of Mui are about 40 years old while the average age of Chinese moviegoers is about 20. 

"Young moviegoers who don't know Mui are less likely to go to cinema," he said.

According to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan, pre-sales for Anita have brought in 1.67 million yuan, and the screen share for the film's debut has reached 51.9 percent, which can be compared with the screen share of blockbusters like No Time to Die and Dune. 

"With the support of the high screen share and the strong nostalgic sentiment, the film might gross 80 million-100 million yuan," said Xiao.