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Asia Minute: China’s Latest Blockbuster Movie Setting Records


As you think about your weekend plans on this Aloha Friday, they may include a movie. And while your local options include a number of new releases that have rolled out over the past couple of weeks, they don’t include the latest box office draw from China—which is already setting records in several parts of Asia. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Here’s a story.  A billionaire property developer buys up an offshore wildlife reserve and starts killing all the sea life with sonar technology.  Turns out that includes mermaids—and mermen.

One of the mermaids is assigned to go ashore and kill the developer.  Instead, she makes him re-examine his values and what he’s doing with his life….they fall in love and he has a change of heart about his ocean project.  There’s more—but that’s the basic plot of “The Mermaid.”

The South China Morning Post calls it “a fantasy romantic comedy” and it’s on its way to becoming mainland China’s highest-grossing movie of all time.  It set an opening day record for a Chinese-language movie on the mainland when it came out over the Lunar New Year….and set more box office records in Malaysia and in Hong Kong.

Critics say it’s unusual for the same movie to be number one in both Hong Kong and mainland China—especially these days.  It’s also a reminder of how China is increasingly influencing the global movie market.  Despite being released only in Mandarin--box office trackers Rentrak Comscore say it’s now the number two movie in the world—trailing only “Deadpool.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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