LOS ANGELES • To Hollywood's surprise, Chinese films are increasingly enjoying box-office success.
Never Say Die - a Chinese body-swopping comedy that cost only US$10 million (S$13.7 million) to make - has smashed box-office records for comedies, marking another triumph after the success of Wolf Warrior II, China's most popular movie ever.
Never Say Die, which opened worldwide at the end of September, has taken in an impressive US$326 million. The bulk of its ticket sales was in China, setting a new record for the highest-grossing comedy in a single market, according to The Numbers website.
It beat American comedy blockbusters such as Ben Stiller's 2004 Meet The Fockers (US$279 million in the United States), Bradley Cooper's 2009 Hangover (US$277 million) and Stiller's 2006 Night At The Museum (US$251 million).
It also outdid Jackie Chan's latest Chinese New Year comedy Kung Fu Yoga, which took in more than US$254 million in China.
Never Say Die is also one of the top 10 all-time highest-grossing comedies worldwide.
The film follows a male mixed-martial arts fighter and a high-profile female journalist, who accuses him of throwing a match for a hefty payoff and ends his career. The two loathe each other, but things take a bizarre turn after they collide by a swimming pool, accidentally lock lips, and fall into the water just as lightning strikes.
The film began as a popular play of the same name staged by Mahua FunAge, a leading theatrical troupe in China, and years of instant audience feedback helped hone its humour.
The play was adapted for the screen by directors Song Yang and Zhang Chiyu. The film reunites Allen Ai and Ma Li, the leads from Mahua's previous smash stage-to-screen adaptation, Goodbye Mr Loser (2016).