Monster Hunt sans Kai Ko a huge hit

Monster Hunt stars Bai Baihe and Jing Boran (both above). Jing replaced Kai Ko when the fantasy comedy had to be reshot after Kai Ko’s drug scandal.
Monster Hunt stars Bai Baihe and Jing Boran (both above). Jing replaced Kai Ko when the fantasy comedy had to be reshot after Kai Ko’s drug scandal. PHOTO: SONY PICTURES SINGAPORE

BEIJING • Monster Hunt, a Chinese fantasy comedy that had to be reshot after its Taiwanese star Kai Ko's drug scandal, has more than recovered from the setback.

It became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time on Sunday in China, the world's second-largest cinema market, taking in more than 1.268 billion yuan (S$280.2 million) in 10 days since its debut, the state-run media reported.

The movie, directed by Hong Kong's Raman Hui - who co-directed the 2007 American animated comedy Shrek The Third - is about a young man who magically becomes pregnant and gives birth to a cute monster named Huba.

China's Jing Boran replaced Ko in the role of the young man, after Ko was detained for marijuana use in Beijing last year and banned from working in Chinese show business. The reshoot cost a reported 70 million yuan, bringing the total production budget to a reported 350 million yuan.

Ahead of the summer movie season this year, China lifted a ban on films of Ko and other celebrity drug offenders.

Bill Kong, the Hong Kong producer of 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2006's Fearless and now, Monster Hunt, said friends called him feeling aggrieved on his behalf after the ban was revoked.

He told NetEase website: "Anyway, we're releasing the movie, so what more do I say?"

He said he hoped the Chinese movie bureau would allow the Kai Ko version to be shown one day because "Kai Ko acted very well in this movie".

China's Bai Baihe also stars in the film with Hong Kong's Eric Tsang and Sandra Ng.

The movie also set opening-day and single-day records by a Chinese film, Xinhua said.

China's total box office in the first half of this year totalled 20.4 billion yuan.

Fast & Furious 7 became the highest-grossing film ever in China in April, surging past last year's Transformers: Age Of Extinction, to take in more than 2 billion yuan.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Monster Hunt sans Kai Ko a huge hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe