Having already racked up an assortment of world records for China, Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid is now officially the highest-grossing film in China ever at 2.49 billion yuan (382 million USD).
Over the span of just 12 days, The Mermaid has reportedly already pulled ahead of Chinese blockbuster (and American flop) Monster Hunt, which took 58 days and some suspect methods to reach its previous record of 2.44 billion.
A boisterous romcom about a mermaid assassin and a businessman, The Mermaid was no doubt helped by its release ahead of Valentine’s Day, during which China’s box office ballooned more than 150% from last year’s Feb 14 at 580 million yuan, reports SCMP. Of course, the movie’s release also happened to coincide with the biggest box office week of the year for China against minimal foreign competition.
Not content with hogging the spotlight in China, The Mermaid‘s also been released globally through Sony. So far, the record-smashing film also boasts the highest-grossing opening day for a Chinese-language Sony release in Singapore at $838,000, and the highest grossing opening day for a Chinese film in Malaysia ever at $528,000.
In case you (like us) are one of the few on mainland who have yet to see the film, here’s Vulture‘s summary of its appeal:
Mermaid is a very, very funny movie, but its caustic swipes at China’s nouveau riche, combined with its despairing look at the devastation of the country’s environment, suggest a filmmaker trying to find ways to reconcile his buoyant sense of fun with deeper, darker themes. It’s not clear whether Chow has reconciled them, as the film often shifts jarringly between tones, from broad humor to swooning romance, to eco-message movie. (It even has a couple of musical numbers.) But it’s amazing how distinctive and strange Mermaid manages to be, especially given the highly derivative concept — how personal it feels, amid all the absurdist, go-for-broke humor. It deserves to be seen.
Although Entertainment Weekly‘s review was more mixed, the consensus is that Chow’s brand of humour transcends all:
The Mermaid is at its best when it embraces the ridiculous, no-holds-barred, farcical comedy that Chow has become known for, thanks to films like Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer. From the start, and throughout the middle of the movie, Chow and his actors present a full-force farce. Sure, some jokes fall flat, but the sheer magnitude of ridiculousness has you forgetting about that soon afterwards. Lin Yun in particular proves she has a talent for physical comedy in a standout scene where her attempts to assassinate Liu Xian backfire, and she winds up taking two sea urchins and a golf club to the face.
As part of SAPPRFT’s plan to release globally a minimum of one Chinese film per month, The Mermaid also just opened on the 19th in the US, where it’s hoped to do better than Monster Hunt did.
“It’s the right time for the Chinese film industry to reach out more to the world,” argued SAPPRFT film bureau head Zhang Hongsen. “Promoting Chinese movies overseas is not easy right now, just as the film industry reform launched in 2003 was not easy. However, we have faith and know we will make it in the end.”
Zhang’s referring to the beginning of foreign companies’ investment in Chinese cinema, which has seen China’s film market growing 30% annually on average since 2003. Last year, box office takings overachieved with a growth of 48% (44 billion yuan) — and what with all these new record figures already bombarding 2016, the Middle Kingdom looks to be well on its way to fulfilling its prophecy of becoming the world’s largest movie market.