China On Screen: A Domestic Showdown—Rom-Com Vs. Action-Comedy Sequel

  • Week two of China’s full summer season sees a clash between two more domestic films
  • Huayi Bros’ rom-com When Larry Met Mary gets a CFI Score of 6/10
  • Wanda’s action-comedy For A Few Bullets misses the mark with a CFI score of 4/10

‘Mary’ and ‘Larry’ having some fun at the premiere of ‘When Larry Met Mary’ (Weibo)

The first battle of China’s summer movie season went to Hong Kong crime thriller Cold War 2.
The action sequel debuted with RMB 298 million ($44.6 million) last weekend and easily defeated the hotly-anticipated animation Da Hai, which grossed RMB 227 million ($34 million) after disappointed moviegoers trounced its thin plot and weak character development.

This Friday will see another wave of domestic heavyweights clash as Huayi Brothers’ romantic comedy When Larry Met Mary (陆垚知马俐) goes toe-to-toe with Wanda’s action-comedy For A Few Bullets (快手枪手快枪手).

This week’s on-screen battle between Huayi Brothers and Wanda extends the confrontation between China’s two largest distributors after accusations last week swirled around Wanda sabotaging the release of Huayi’s animated feature Rock Dog (摇滚藏獒).

Who will come out on top this weekend? Below, CFI takes a look at the box office potential for the two wide releases.

When Larry Met Mary (陆垚知马俐)

China Distribution – Huayi Brothers Film International (华谊兄弟电影国际发行公司)

CFI Score – 6/10

First-time director Wen Zhang (文章) rose to fame as a television actor and hopes to follow the footsteps of Alec Su, another actor-turned-director, whose film The Left Ear (左耳) scored big with Chinese audiences in April 2015.

A multi-city promotional road tour and successful preview screenings bodes well for When Larry Met Mary to hit between RMB 400M-500M range ($60M-$75M).

For a Few Bullets (快手枪手快枪手)

China Distribution – Wuzhou Film Distribution (五洲电影发行有限公司)

CFI Score – 4/10

Judging by the trailer for For A Few Bullets, its movie posters and other promotional materials, as well as by the film’s Spaghetti Western-like English title, the marketing team was clearly trying to lasso the aesthetic Wild West-action-comedy that made its predecessor, Let the Bullets Fly (让子弹飞), the third highest grossing film of 2010 in China.

However, while Let the Bullets Fly had multitudes of talent both behind the camera—directed by Jiang Wen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and starring the comic foils Chow Yun-fat and Ge You—For a Few Bullets has little to no star power. CFI believes this one will fall short of RMB 200 million ($~35 million).