Chinese movies vie for top dog position

Monster Hunt 2, which stars Tony Leung Chiu Wai (above), is among the 10 China-made movies fighting at the box office on the first day of Chinese New Year. (From far left) Sisters Alana, Danielle and Este Haim of the group Haim were named best intern
Monster Hunt 2, which stars Tony Leung Chiu Wai (above), is among the 10 China-made movies fighting at the box office on the first day of Chinese New Year.PHOTO: SONY PICTURES

BEIJING • It is a dog eat dog world in cinemas in China from today as 10 new domestic movies vie to take a bigger bite of the box-office pie on the first day of the Chinese Year of the Dog.

The stakes are high.

China's box office is estimated to exceed US$63.2 million (S$83 million) today, according to Maoyan, a popular film database.

Last year, the industry wagged a happy tail, earning a record-high US$532 million during the seven-day Chinese New Year holiday, according to figures from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Viewers this year will be spoilt for choice.

Just like Hollywood has been banking on familiar brands for sequel teeth, Chinese film-makers sniff money to be made from this approach too.

And they have given a bigger roar to movies with spiffy special effects as the country's movie industry gets better at tapping technological advances.

Fantasy adventure film Monster Hunt 2, for example, hopes again to be as monster a hit as it was in 2015 - when it was the top dog among domestic movies.

Another release, Detective Chinatown 2, switches its setting from Bangkok to New York, but fans can expect more of the same milking of improbable situations for laughs.

Then, there is Operation Red Sea, flying the flag for the country's anti-terrorism efforts and helmed by Dante Lam, who also directed 2016 hit Operation Mekong.

A familiar monkey is also up to his old, and new, tricks.

Industry pundits expect cinema-goers to go wild over The Monkey King 3: Kingdom Of Women, starring William Feng and Aaron Kwok.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese movies vie for top dog position'. Print Edition | Subscribe