With the release of its first joint-venture film in China, Warner Bros. is taking an aggressive and (we believe) unique approach in trying to minimize the effect piracy has on the release. Could it actually be working?
Warner released the low-budget (US$400,000) Crazy Stone (疯狂石头) in Chinese theaters on June 30. Less than two weeks later, the studio released legit copies of Crazy Stone on DVD, and they are reportedly selling for as little as 10 kuai in DVD shops throughout China.
The heist comedy from 28-year-old writer/director Ning Hao (one if its producers is Andy Lau) has become a surprise hit this year, earning US$1.5 million to date, despite the fact that much of the movie is delivered in a Chongqing dialect with no subtitles. Reports claim that the movie’s weekly box office take actually rose in its second week, uncommon in China, and that the movie benefited from being released during a month-long halt on foreign film releases in China. Stories also said that somehow no black market DVDs of Crazy Stone were available during its first week of release (the real story here would be how they managed that). Bootleg DVDs are no doubt available now, what with perfect studio versions to copy from. We saw Crazy Stone at our local DVD shop yesterday for 7 kuai.
So, how is the movie? We haven’t seen it yet. But, for what it’s worth, SH magazine gives it four out of five stars.
Crazy Stone is supposed to be released in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore later this summer.
Crazy Stone Crowns in Box Office Takings (CRI)
Crazy Stone‘s Chinese Box Office (CRI)
Crazy Stone Leaves No Laugh Unturned (Shenzhen Daily)
Warners Trial Early DVD Release (AP)