Mermaid on track to No. 2 in China

BEIJING • Stephen Chow's Mermaid is splashing up the Chinese box-office chart after collecting more than 1.6 billion yuan (S$340 million) in ticket sales during its first seven days of release, says website NetEase.

The comedy opened on Chinese New Year day, topping From Vegas To Macau III and The Monkey King 2 as the box-office champion.

Yesterday, NetEase said Mermaid had become the fourth highest-grossing Chinese film on the mainland.

When it dislodges The Ghouls (No. 2) and Lost In Hong Kong (No. 3), it will reach No. 2 behind fantasy adventure Monster Hunt, the biggest Chinese box-office success with a record haul of about 2.4 billion yuan.

Meanwhile, From Vegas To Macau III director Wong Jing was apparently unfazed that a cinema in China's Gansu province asked people not to watch the film.

"We want to apologise to those who have watched the film," Xinhua quoted the Pingliang China Film Stellar International Theater as saying in a recent WeChat post.

"We sincerely suggest everybody not to spend money on it," the theatre added, calling the movie, which stars Chow Yun Fat, Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung, a "scam" and saying it will schedule only one screening a day for it.

"We cannot understand how a bunch of previous A-list stars have such poor taste for screenplays and how Hong Kong movies have been reduced to such a state," the post added.

Many Internet users praised the theatre manager for being conscientious. But the theatre later deleted the post, saying it did not represent the position of the China Film Stellar International Theater Chain, with which it is a franchisee.

The movie's reviews have been poor, scoring 5.8 out of 10 on Mtime.com and 1.1 out of 10 on IMdb.com. It has taken in 680 million yuan in tickets as of last Saturday.

Wong, known for his slapstick comedies, last Friday attached a statement of clarification from the theatre chain on Weibo and insinuated: "Someone is sick but not seeing the doctor."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'Mermaid on track to No. 2 in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe