Producers have pulled the plug on the Chinese fantasy-epic movie “Asura,” which cost over $100 million to make, after it made just $7 million in its opening weekend. But it may not be the last time Chinese audiences get the chance to see it.
Alibaba Pictures, along with investors Zhenjian Film Studio and Ningxia Film Group, decided to yank the movie, China’s most expensive ever made, after it bombed over the weekend. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie’s social-media accounts announced the move on Sunday, but provided no further information as to why.
But then a Zhenjian Film spokesperson told Chinese news outlet Sina, “This decision was made not only because of the bad box office. We plan to make some changes to the film and release it again.”
It’s unprecedented for a movie to come to theaters only to be pulled, changed, and released again, and we’ll see if “Asura” actually does get a second chance. The movie was supposed to launch a new hit franchise for China, but now, the movie’s producers are alleging that it was sabotaged by online trolls.
US blockbusters like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” have faced Rotten Tomatoes sabotage, and producers claim something similar happened to “Asura” on China’s leading mobile ticketing apps and a Chinese review aggregator. Another social media post alleged that the movie received a number of 1/10 scores.
But other factors could have played a part. Fankink, a Chinese research firm, implied that the movie could have been poorly marketed.
“Based on our tracking, prerelease market heat for this movie was quite low — below average,” Fankink told THR.
Whatever the case, it will be hard to make a comeback after this dismal start if the movie is indeed released again — but maybe audiences in China will be a little more curious about the movie now.