China kicked off the Year of the Monkey by breaking box office records. The country”s movie theaters pulled in $100.5 million (660 million yuan) on Lunar New Year”s Day – a single day record. A comedy about mermaids is largely to thank for the big turnout at the movies on Monday.
A massive $40.9 million of that total came from this comedy, simply titled The Mermaid, on the film”s opening day.
So why is mermaid craze sweeping across China? Here”s what we know about the hit new movie:
What”s the story?
The Mermaid tells the tale of a mermaid who falls for the evil business tycoon she”s been sent to seduce and assassinate.
Who”s the big name in this?
The name selling a lot of tickets here is director Stephen Chow, a Hong Kong-born actor/director/screenwriter who”s known in China for such hits as Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer.
What are critics saying?
Variety”s chief Asia film critic had praise for the movie, calling it “pure enchantment” with “scenes of side-splitting slapstick” though the screenplay is “not wildly original.” A reviewer for daily Chinese publication Global Times wasn”t so thrilled with The Mermaid, declaring the film a “disappointing” film that uses old tropes and labeling it “a class on environmental protection masquerading as a romance story.” Chinese website Mtime.com (kind of a Rotten Tomatoes + IMDb + Fandango) has The Mermaid scored at 7.9 out of 10.
What”s this about it being an environmental protection film?
The Mermaid“s evil business tycoon is using sonar technology to get rid of sea life in a wildlife reserve he”s somehow managed to purchase. The sonar”s causing the merfolk to die or get sick. Apparently, it all ends up being a story that”s meant to resonate Chinese viewers who know their country is dealing with a host of environmental crises.
Who”s the audience for this?
Unclear. As the Global Times writer states, “A film showing during the Spring Festival holiday, it is practically implied to be a film targeted for family audiences. However, some of the violent and sexual themes in the film are rather improper for young audiences, and yet no notice of this was given during earlier marketing of the film.”
Alright, so can I see a trailer for this thing?
Yup, here you go, a preview for The Mermaid, complete with silly drawings of half-fish, half-woman creatures sketched by guys who have no idea what a mermaid looks like: