Chinese hero saves the day, sets box office record

Movie about a former special forces soldier saving citizens from western mercenaries in Africa earns Dh2.2bn

This photo taken on August 7, 2017 shows a woman standing next to movie posters for "Wolf Warriors 2" in Beijing. 
A Chinese action film that depicts the country's soldiers saving war-ravaged Africans from Western baddies soared to become China's all-time top box-office earner on August 8, headlining a summer of patriotic cinematic fare. The wildly popular "Wolf Warriors 2" boasts the ominous tagline "whoever offends China will be hunted down no matter how far away they are", and millions of Chinese cinema-goers have lapped it up since the movie's release less than two weeks ago. / AFP PHOTO / Greg Baker
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A film depicting a Chinese hero saving the day in a war-torn African country has become China's highest-grossing film, pulling in more than 4 billion yuan (Dh2.2 billion) at the box office since it was released last month.

Wolf Warrior 2 is expected to rake in a total of 5.5bn yuan as it taps into feelings of patriotism and national pride at home. Data for its box-office takings are from Chinese online ticketing platform Maoyan.

Analysts say that the film, which depicts a former Chinese special forces soldier single-handedly evacuating Chinese citizens besieged by western mercenaries in Africa, could also inspire China to make more such films, as Beijing sends more of its nationals abroad to undertake construction as part of its "Belt and Road" initiative.

"Chinese audiences love to see films that resonate with their own recognition of national identity and this movie is more advanced in quality, theme and topicality," said Dong Shu, a Shanghai-based independent film critic.

"For sure making similar movies will be a new direction."

China's previous highest grossing film was the comedy The Mermaid, which earned 3.39bn yuan early last year.

While privately financed, the Wolf Warrior 2 has received strong support from state organisations, including the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, the People's Daily newspaper.

"An individual will be better with a powerful country behind his back. There is not only Captain America, but also Chinese heroes who fight abroad," the People's Daily wrote on its official Weibo account.

The popularity of the movie has bucked slowing growth in the Chinese film market, which only grew 3.73 per cent last year.

Wu Jian, senior data analyst with Beijing Weiying Technology, said he had initially predicted that the movie would make 800 million yuan to 1.5bn yuan.

"We were quite pessimistic about this year's box office outlook before this movie, expecting even a net decline from last year," he said. "But now we might be talking about a 20 per cent rise for this year if Hollywood movies also fare well in the second half."