By 21:00 UTC+8 on August 14th, the box office of Wolf Warriors II had reached 649 billion RMB (or 697 million US dollars). Thus, it surpassed Mission Impossible, whose box office ranked 99th in the world, and has listed the top 100 global box offices. It is the first time for Asian movies to list as top 100, which broke the monopoly of Hollywood films toward the list. Besides, globally, Wolf Warriors II also ranks first in single-market box office this year.
Wolf Warriors II has highest box office in China and the story about China is rooted in real life.
Wolf Warriors II is about action and military. Its greatest success is that the film conforms to the realistic context of the rise of China. It tells the story about China on the road of great rejuvenation, which resonates with the audience.
The story tells how Leng Feng was confronted with wars in Africa, avoided risks and took the initiative to rescue trapped compatriots. Above is the main content and climax of the film. The story is easily reminiscent of how Chinese Navy evacuated the nationals from Libya in 2011, the speed of which quickly attracted widespread attention around the world.
On August 2nd, Mr. Wang published a long article on Weibo. He wrote that as the witness of evacuation of nationals from Libya in 2011, he had some profound feelings: it has been 6 years since 2011. China has improved a lot and the defense force is now more powerful. Overseas Chinese should be more proud and confident and have more sense of security than before!
Hong Yin, the director of the Film and Television Communication Research Center of Tsinghua University, commented that after 20 years of exploration, the theme film has found a few secrets of success. First of all, the film should be well-made. Among all Chinese films recently, Wolf Warriors II has first-class production standard. Among all of its over 4000 shots, each scene, each shot and, every dispatch was carefully designed. Its production can reach Hollywood’s level.
He believes that Wolf Warriors II has also absorbed the characteristics of genre films. That one person fights against unjust order is the core of genre films, such as Hollywood’s First Blood, and 007 series. When do we feel the strongest sense of hero? It is when he gains triumph while confronted with overwhelming resistance. But behind the film is a typical Chinese value. There are many national symbols and national images, including the national emblem, the national flag, the Chinese passport and so on. This is a kind of Chinese transformation of the Hollywood type, but it is also an innovation and breakthrough.
However, Hong Yin admits that Wolf Warriors II also has its limitations, which deserves consideration for future theme films. For instance, it lacks humanitarian spirit. Besides, its description of death is not sufficiently restrained but exaggerated. The highlight of hero is at the expense of all kinds of deaths, which disrespects life. If this problem cannot be resolved, Chinese film cannot go to the world. He said, only by having everyone’s life respected can Chinese film really go to the world.
Wolf Warriors II’s success is mainly due to domestic market
Wolf Warriors II is the first Asian film listing the top 100 global box office and it breaks the Hollywood monopoly on this list. However, unlike other Hollywood movies, whose box office come from all over the world, the box office of Wolf Warriors II mainly comes from Chinese — nearly 99% of the box office from the single market of Chinese mainland.
In the contrast, as for Hollywood high box office films, the overseas box office certainly accounts for a considerable percentage of the box office. Among the top 100 box office films in the world, except for Wolf Warriors II, there is no other film whose domestic box office accounting for more than 60% of the box office. Among the top 100, Star Wars(1977) ranking the 73rd has the highest proportion of domestic box office, which is 59.6%, followed by Hunger Game(2012) ranking the 98th, whose domestic box office accounted for 58.8%. In Hollywood’s hundred years of history, these is no case of solely relying the whole nation to create box office miracle.
Although it is worth celebrating the news that Wolf Warriors II lists the top 100 global box offices, the Hollywood dominance of the global market remains unshakable. And Wolf Warriors II is the miracle created by the power of a country under the support of the local protection policy, plus favorable climatic geographical and human conditions. To some extent, it’s hard to duplicate its success. And for Chinese film industry, the symbolic meaning is probably greater than the practical significance.
Why does Wolf Warriors II have dismal overseas performance?
Contrast with the popularity of Wolf Warriors II in domestic market, it has rather dismal overseas performance. It is reported that the film was released in 52 theaters in North America last weekend. It received $420000 box office on that weekend. And totally, its three-week overseas box office is $1.93 million, almost negligible compared with domestic box office.
In fact, from the perspective of the production, Wolf Warriors II is a Hollywood-style film. There are a lot of special effects scenes with first-class visual effect. Even so, Wolf Warriors II still has rather dismal overseas performance. Reasons listed by the press are: the patriotism upheld by Wolf Warriors II captures the hearts of Chinese audiences, but couldn’t be acknowledged by foreign audiences. Foreign media and audience’s reaction to this film is also mixed. Some call the film as Chinese version of First Blood, while others think the film has overwhelming Chinese consciousness.
In addition, Wolf Warriors II is not graded in North America. It is difficult for films that are not rated by MPAA to be widely screened in mainstream chains (if ratings, the film is highly likely to be R-level). And Chinese are main audience. Besides, publisher selected by the film is not a big company. It did not invest much for marketing before the film was released in North America.
What’s more, another reason that cannot be overlooked is the strong competition. Overseas audiences have a lot to choose. Compared with Dunkirk and Spider-Man：Homecoming, Wolf Warriors II naturally seems not so attractive. In addition, from a larger environment, there are very few Chinese films that can get successful box office overseas. Zhang Yimou’s Hero caught up with the trend of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and thanks to the marketing and promotion of Miramax Film, this film had a reasonable performance.
This article originally appeared in Mtime and was translated by Pandaily.
Click here to read the original Chinese article.