How China’s most expensive film became its biggest box office flop
With a budget of $100 million, the creator’s of fantasy epic Asura billed it as a “a triumph that the entire world will adore for years to come”. With an all-star cast and breathtaking special effects, this was the most expensive film in Chinese cinema history and had ambitions to rival The Lord of the Rings and Avatar. Then it launched.
After a disastrous weekend at the box office, Asura was unexpectedly yanked from Chinese cinemas earlier this month. Raking in a paltry 49 million yuan (£5.49m) of its record-breaking production cost, it seemed the producers had made a fatal miscalculation: Overnight, Asura became China’s biggest flop.
As China’s film industry grows at breakneck speed thanks to backing from the state and major private internet firms such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, it seems as though Asura has become a victim of the fast-changing tastes of Chinese cinemagoers. “This is one blockbuster out of many, so [producers] might feel they can withdraw the film without putting themselves in dire straits,” says Gary Bettinson, a film lecturer at Lancaster University.