The Monkey King made more money than The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle this weekend, without even having a global release. As the Oscars loom on the horizon, it would be easy to think that one of the front-runners would be dominating the global box office – maybe ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ or David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle’. No, the biggest film at the global box office right now is ‘The Monkey King’, never heard of it? Don’t worry, neither had we until we saw the results of the hotly-contested Chinese New Year box office battle. [‘Iron Man 3’ gets extra scenes for Chinese release] The special effects extravaganza (which looks epic, watch the trailer above), based on a passage from the classical novel ’Journey To The West’, opened in just seven regions on January 31st, raking in an estimated £28m over a three day period.
In comparison, the highest-grossing film at the US box office ‘Ride Along’ took £7.3m over the same period, in its third week of release. Chinese New Year is historically one of the most profitable weekends in the Chinese cinema year, so it’s no surprise a home-grown film took home the lion’s (or should that be monkey’s?) share. The data from international box office tracking agency Rentrak also shows that ‘The Monkey King’ performed well on IMAX screens taking £1.1m on the Friday along, beating the record for opening day takings of £918,000 previously held by ‘Iron Man 3’.
The Hong Kong-made feature which stars Asian cinema heavyweights Donnie Yen (‘Ip Man’, ‘Hero’) and Chow Yun-Fat (‘Hard Boiled’, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’), tells the story of how the Monkey King (Yen) rebels against the Jade Emperor of Heaven. [Censored version of ‘Skyfall’ opens in China] ‘The Monkey King’ does not currently have a UK release date, but it’s heading to US cinemas in September.