The Great Wall sees China box office success but poor reviews


The Great Wall, the latest film from acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou, premiered in China on Thursday and claimed almost US$7m in its first five hours.

Originally scheduled for release on Friday, the epic hit screens in the country a day early without explanation, taking $6.74m in the process, Tencent reports.

Telling the story of a bitter battle against an army of taotie - a monster found in ancient Chinese mythology which symbolises greed - the Hollywood-China co-production cost an estimated US$150m to produce becoming the most expensive film ever shot entirely in China.

A great critical failure?

Despite the encouraging box office receipts, the film has been something of a critical damp squib among Chinese cinema-goers.

As of this morning, 12,463 viewers had given it an average of 5.5/10 on film rating site Douban, with perhaps the harshest critique describing is as "the greatest failure of Zhang Yimou".

Prior to its Western release (the film opens in North America on February 17), the film has been at the centre of controversy over allegations of white washing, whereby white actors are chosen for roles that people believe should have been given to actors of another ethnicity.

Speaking at the film's premiere in Beijing, Damon rejected such claims and insisted that his role was almost meant to be a European.

Enormous local marketing campaign

The Hollywood Reporter states that Legendary East - the Chinese arm of the Wanda Group-owned Legendary Entertainment - mounted an enormous local marketing campaign for the movie, in the hope that domestic takings can compensate for any potential failure overseas.

Chinese blockbusters - regardless of their success at home - tend to perform poorly outside of the country.

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