As it heads to its second weekend, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" seems to be well below the box office performance of the first installment of the franchise in China. That is despite a series of personalized attempts to attract Chinese audiences.
Since Friday afternoon, six days after its launch, "Grindelwald" had raised about $ 46.3 million in the second largest film market in the world. He was hit at the box office on Wednesday and Thursday by "Venom" and the comical Chinese police thriller "A Cool Fish" then it fell further, to the fifth place, at 3 p.m. Friday, muscular on one side for the new releases "Ralph Breaks the Internet" and "Johnny English Strikes Again" starring Rowan Atkinson, who has a large following in China.
The "fantastic beasts and where to find them" of 2016 raised $ 86 million in China, almost double the current sequel, at a time when the country had far fewer screens than it has now. On Wednesday and Thursday, "Grindelwald" had around 70,000 exams per day.
J.K. The Magic World of Rowling remains extremely popular in the Middle Kingdom, where it is likely that more people will recognize Harry Potter than Prince Harry as an emissary of British culture. In Douban, a review site for key users in China, some 127,000 reviewers gave "Grindelwald" a respectable 7.2 rating, but many complained that the story was too complicated, a common criticism of Western critics as well.
"A delivery that is totally a configuration for the next, it was too boring, and the emotional scenes uncomfortable and wooden," said one of Douban's most popular reviews, which gave him only two stars. "The spectacle of the beasts was not as rich or interesting as it was in the first."
Another review of three stars warned: "The threshold to enter is very high: the non-fanatics will be lost completely and the plot is too messy. But the special effects were very good and the sets are very cool. "
Despite the introduction of a Chinese "fantastic beast", the film has not reached its starting point: the zouwu, based on a dark creature mentioned in the "Classic of the mountains and the seas", an ancient full Chinese text of Myths and Mythical Geography Thought to go back to the 4th century BC
"This is how it is described in Chinese mythology: giant cat, the size of an elephant, of five colors. It really takes a Newt Scamander to contain and take care of that beast, "Rowling said in a promotional video for" Grindelwald. "He added:" There is a Chinese bestiary that is absolutely fascinating. "
The original classic text mentions the zouwu only briefly, declaring: "In Lin's Country, there are rare beasts. Big as a tiger, with a body of several colors and a tail longer than its body, it is called Zouwu, and when you mount it you can reach a thousand li ", an old unit of measure of about a third of a mile.
Chinese fans loved the Hollywood version of the fantastic cat, some even said it seemed so cute that they took dusty copies of the classic text to find the reference. Many realized the irony that Hollywood had captured a cultural element that not even most Chinese knew, with a user on Weibo, China's Twitter, writing: "Our ancestors left us many good things that never We have managed to use – a shame! "
The "Grindelwald" marketing campaign also reached the Chinese public with a magnificent Chinese-specific poster: a painted Chinese brush of zouwu and other creatures perched on a tree, made with the "gongbi" technique known for its highly accurate strokes and realism . It was exhibited at the premiere of the film in Beijing, spread over a seven-panel screen. The artist, Zhang Chun, also created portraits with an ink brush of six creatures for the first film, which went viral in China.
Some in western fan sites have talked about the possibility that the zouwu can take the "Beasts" franchise to China. In the first film, a creature with the name of French name played a prominent role, and the next movie was set in Paris.
Patrick Frater contributed to this report.