One for the ages: Transformers film breaks mainland box office records

Movie's 600m yuan in sales comes after film official warns about Hollywood's dominance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 3:45am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 7:57am

Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction has earned more than 600 million yuan (HK$750 million) since its debut on the mainland on Friday, an opening weekend record, according to state media.

The box-office smash follows a warning by a top state film official that cinemas should not focus too much on Hollywood fare, as home-grown productions might suffer.

Age of Extinction took in 188 million yuan in ticket sales on its first day of release and 224 million yuan on Saturday.

The fourth instalment in the franchise, part of which was shot in Hong Kong, is drawing close to X-Men: Days of Future Past, which has grossed 721.5 million yuan since it was released on May 16, according to EntGroup, a Beijing research company specialising in the mainland film industry.

The top film of the year remains Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, Stephen Chow Sing-chi's reimagining of the Chinese literary classic.

By the time it wrapped up its theatrical run in March, the action-comedy had taken in 1.04 billion yuan.

China limits the number of foreign movies to 34 a year, but the quota is expected to be "significantly" increased in 2017.

Still, Zhang Hongsen , the head of the film bureau at the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, told a forum last week that a greater Hollywood presence would pose a serious challenge to the mainland film industry, according to the Southern Metropolis News.

Zhang said cinemas should give more screen time to domestic films so they could compete better with Hollywood and urged them not to focus excessively on Transformers : Age of Extinction.

It's an unwritten rule of the industry that the July and August peak season be used to showcase mainland productions.

If there were no restrictions on US access to the mainland market, the Chinese film industry would face "grave consequences", Zhang was quoted as saying.

That could include losing the central government's policy of favourable treatment, he said.