Sci-fi epic Avatar has administered a righteous kicking at the Chinese box office to a locally-produced film about the life of Confucius - despite the authorities' reported attempt to ensure the home-grown product's success.
Historical drama Confucius has taken a mere 97 million yuan ($14m) since its release on 22 January, and has so far failed to recoup its 150 million yuan ($22m) cost, Bloomberg reports. Avatar, on the other hand, has already taken an estimated 1 billion yuan ($146m) since it opened in early January.
Wu Xinxin, international business manager of Confucius maker Dadi Entertainment Ltd, said: “Had our film not played at the same time as Avatar, it would have done much better at the box office. We have a good film... but it’s a different genre and not as commercial as Avatar. We had expected Confucius to do well.”
The disappointing performance of Confucius comes despite the backing of state-run China Film Group, described as "the nation’s top movie distributor", which allegedly ordered that Avatar could only be shown in 3-D, effectively limiting its distribution to cinemas equipped to project the format.
All is not yet lost for Confucius, since the "authoritarian political and social theory advocated by the philosopher... is the basis for much of East Asia’s philosophical beliefs", and Wu therefore expressed the hope that the movie will earn some cash in "South Korea, Singapore and other Asian countries". ®