Friday, January 22, 2016

"Monster Hunt"

Today a Chinese blockbuster rolls out, in a limited way, across the fruited plain.

... “Monster Hunt” was planned and shot [in 2013] on a budget of forty million dollars—high-end in China, if a fraction of effects-laden Hollywood spectaculars. But then, in August, 2014, eight months after the film had wrapped production, one of its stars, the Taiwanese heartthrob Kai Ko, was arrested for smoking marijuana and subsequently banned by the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television from public appearances as an entertainer. Faced with a movie that could be shelved indefinitely, Kong informed Hui he would have to recast the role and reshoot seventy per cent of the film. Camped out at a Beijing effects house, painstakingly integrating the titular computer-generated monsters into the film, Hui burst into tears.

But Jing Boran, a twenty-six-year-old mainland actor who had starred in one of Kong’s other recent films, was so eager to help Kong and Hui that he volunteered to take over Kai Ko’s role without collecting a salary. ...

Today, “Monster Hunt” will commence a short run in twenty-one cities across the U.S., followed by on-demand and television options via the Brooklyn-based indie distributor FilmRise. And, despite the existence of strong fan-based communities and promotional platforms for exotic genre fare that includes Chinese swordsman films, special-effects monster extravaganzas, and even off-the-beaten path children’s fare, all categories in which “Monster Hunt” could comfortably fit, Kong is less than optimistic in his assessment of its chances here. ...

“I don’t think it will be successful in the West,” Kong said. FilmRise itself seem to have scant idea of what to do, hyping the film with the pizzazz-deficient tagline “From the head animator of ‘Shrek,’ ” and Hui, who would be happy to make himself available to promote the film in the U.S., has never been contacted by anyone at the company. ...

The movie won't set the box office aflame showing in twenty-one theaters, but it'll be interesting to see how it performs on a per-screen basis. A lot of people saw it in the Middle Kingdom, so Monster Hunt must have had something going for it.


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