‘Guardians of the Tomb’ shows plenty of venom in China

‘Guardians of the Tomb.’

Kimble Rendall’s action-adventure Guardians of the Tomb began its global roll-out in China last Friday. Released in 3D on about 6,000 screens, it drew in hordes of teenage girls, the target audience.

The film starring Li Bingbing, Kelsey Grammer, Kellan Lutz, Shane Jacobson, Stef Dawson and Chinese actor/popstar and actor Wu Chun rang up $US6.5 million in three days, according to China’s Entgroup.

That’s a very solid debut given tough competition from Indian, Hollywood and local releases, and considering Rendall’s Bait 3D opened with $AUD 7 million and wound up grossing $25 million in China. That was in 2012 when the market was far smaller than the juggernaut it has become. Last year the territory’s BO reached $8.6 billion, up $2 billion on 2016.

“A top-10 opening is a great result,” Rendall tells IF after attending the Beijing premiere and two other screenings with Li Bingbing, Dawson, Lutz and Wu Chun.

“It was satisfying to sit there with all these teenage girls and watch their reactions. It looks like the film is positioned to do as well as Bait or even better.”

Shot on the Gold Coast, Beijing and the Gobi desert and written by Rendall and Paul Staheli, the plot follows a team of scientists who stumble on a well-preserved mummified Emperor from 200 BC China – triggering a 2000-year-old nightmare.

After losing a colleague in the ancient labyrinth, the group must contend with a swarm of man-eating funnel web spiders and try to figure out from where the arachnids get their power and unusual intelligence.

Guardians of the Tomb opened in fourth spot on Friday and ranked eighth for the weekend, selling more than 1.2 million tickets.

(L-R) Kimble Rendall, Kellan Lutz, Li Bingbing, Wu Chun and Stef Dawson at the Beijing premiere of ‘Guardians of the Tomb.’

The Chinese-Australian co-production will open in Oz on February 2 on 12 screens, distributed by Milt Barlow’s Asia Releasing. Barlow also bought the UK rights from Darclight, the genre films offshoot of Gary Hamilton’s Arclight Films.

In the US Gravitas Ventures will release the film produced by Hamilton, Deng Shuo, Ying Ye and Mark Lazarus on February 23.

Meanwhile Rendall is moving ahead with his next project, The Ruum, a sci-fi/action film about a geologist who is pursued by an alien. Rendall is writing the script with Clive Dawson, adapted from the eponymous short story by US novelist Arthur Porges.

The plan is to shoot in the northern rivers area of NSW later this year, backed by Create NSW, with Owen Paterson as the production designer. The producers are Michael Robertson, Pam Collis, Paul O’Kane and Anna Kokourina.

In China the top title was writer-director Li Fangfang’s war drama Forever Young, drumming up $49.5 million in its second weekend and $72.8 million in 10 days.

Secret Superstar, the Indian coming-of-age drama starring Zaira Wasim and Aamir Khan ranked second, whistling up $29 million in its debut.

Hollywood newcomers occupied the next two spots, with Fox’s Ferdinand drawing $10 million and Wonder taking $9 million.

Sony’s blockbuster Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has scored $70.9 million in 10 days while Yusheng Tian’s romantic comedy The Ex-File: Returns of the Exes has amassed a phenomenal $312.9 million in 24 days.

 A Better Tomorrow 2018, a Chinese crime actioner directed by Ding Sheng, fetched $7.9 million in its first four days.