China’s epic fantasy Asura was promoted as China’s most expensive movie ever made, with a production budget of over $110 million (750 million yuan). Thus, it’s not surprising when the film producers, including Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures, decided to pull the film out after the movie opened to just $7.1 million over the weekend.
The film officially retreated on 10 pm, July 15 Beijing time. After having an opening with limited fanfare, China’s priciest movie would disappear from the big screen entirely. However, Zhenjian Film, one of the film’s producers, said that their decision is not entirely based on the bad box office, and they are going to make some adjustment to the film and release it again. They also suggested that the low ratings on websites such as Douban (similar to Rotten Tomatoes that the audience can rate the film) might be caused by fake negative reviews.
Asura was designed to be a kickoff to a major fantasy franchise – a property similar to the Chinese version of Lord of the Rings trilogy. The film is based on Tibetan Buddhism mythology, with various characters from different heavenly realms. The film stars teenage heartthrob Lei Wu as the lead role, a young boy who has to save the godly realm of Asura from the deadly coup.
Although some Chinese industry were skeptical about Asura’s over $110 million budget, as most other Chinese blockbusters such as Wolf Warrior 2 were only half as much, it is understandable since most of the money was spent on foreign production talent and lavish visual effects. The Academy Award Winner Ngila Dickson (Lord of the Rings) designed the costume in this film and Martín Hernandez ( The Revenant, Birdman ) served as the audio director.
Asura’s catastrophic debut could also be its uncommonly strong competition. During the same time frame of Asura’s debut, Dying to Survive gained $69 million, with an 11-day total of $366 million; Hidden Man directed by Jiang Wen also received $46.2 million for its opening.