Django...finally unchained in mainland China, but flops on opening day

Tarantino's hit movie gets off to a flat start as bootleg copies and competition from 'Oblivion' keep cinemagoers away

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 May, 2013, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 May, 2013, 1:49pm

Django Unchained, US director Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning Western, opened in mainland theatres at the weekend to weak ticket sales, despite pent up demand and hype from months of red tape.

A toned-down version of the film, with less violence and gore, was approved by censors in March, but it was abruptly axed before its April 10 opening day due to “technical reasons”. The cut version - four minutes shorter than the original 161-minute cut - was then rescheduled, and it opened on Sunday.

Django made up less than 10 per cent of total Shenzhen opening-day ticket sales and raked in just 1 million yuan (HK$1.2 million) nationally, according to a Shenzhen Evening News report. By contrast, science-fiction epic Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, took in more than 20 million yuan nationwide on its Friday opening., a mainland ticketing website, said Shanghai and Beijing reported fewer than 6,000 people buying tickets for the film on Sunday, compared with 50,000 for Oblivion.

The UME Cineplex in Shanghai reported an occupancy rate for Django of just 50 per cent on Sunday, and Beijing’s Wanda International Cineplex was only at 30 per cent, the China Daily reported.

Bootlegged copies of the movie, already circulating on video-streaming sites for months, were to blame for Django's weak opening.

Django was expected to open to “a conservative 60 million yuan”, according to earlier media estimates.

A May opening day meant Django would be competing with the likes of other Hollywood blockbusters such as Iron Man 3, which launched as a special version for mainland audiences, and animated film The Croods.

Django Unchained, which won two Oscars, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a plantation owner and Jamie Foxx as a freed slave who trains to become a bounty hunter during the American Civil War.