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Hong Kong: Journey 2...the top?
Rank Movie Title Prediction % Change
1  Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $1,200,000  
2  From Kokuriko Hill $775,000 (i.p.)  
3  The Flowers of War $670,000 (i.p.)  
4  The Viral Factor $650,000 (i.p.)  
5  I Love Hong Kong 2012 $600,000 (i.p.)  

Note. (i.p.) means including previews.


On what is typically one of the biggest weekends of the whole year, moviegoers will have plenty of films to choose from as a staggering 9 releases will see the light just ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays. None of them will be bigger than Journey 2 which will try and top the first one's magnificent 4.5m gross. Since the holidays fall on weekdays this year, this has allowed studios to release their movies with a different and staggered release pattern. 6 movies get their first taste on Thursday, 1 crawls out on Friday while 2 open on Saturday. Also, there have been plenty of advanced screenings with 5 films receiving special sneak previews of different capacities. To preview this weekend, I'll be offering readers a more in-depth look into this week's movies including what a movie's chances of hitting #1 are as well as their "status" for this weekend and beyond and finally by weekend, first week and total predictions.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the follow-up to the smash hit Journey to the Center of the Earth. The first one took everyone by surprise when it debuted with 1m and topped off its Hong Kong run with 4.5m. It landed on top for 4 straight weeks, eventually floating its way into the top 5 that year and stayed on for an amazing 17 weeks before exiting. Now, the sequel is going to try and emulate that success when the 2nd begins its run on Thursday. What makes the film's chances of #1 much higher is that it will once again be shown in 3D. While Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) enters the ring, Brendan Fraser won't be reprising his role. The actors, however, will make very little difference here as this will be the go to family motion picture event of the weekend. Theaters have already booked this in the biggest or second biggest theaters and due to the short running time, IMAX will be showing this 9 times a day. Although it is early days yet, IMAX has proven to be very profitable so far with showtimes about 10-40% full. Regular theaters will also benefit from the short duration as it will add another favorable showtime on weekdays/weekends. Most anticipated polls also have this out in front of the other Chinese New Year movies which bodes well for the action adventure movie.

  1. Chances of #1 - 60%. Being the only film this week to be in 3D will benefit expeditiously, however, most other films have already received special screenings and if it does not perform up to par, another movie could come in and steal #1 away from it.
  2. Status - Favorite. In later weeks, its frontloading will start to become noticeable and it will fall much harder than its predecessor.
  3. Predictions - Weekend should come in at about 1.2m. That would be higher than its predecessor's opening. Sunday will benefit immensely from the holiday on Monday so expect traffic to pick up here. First week should look pretty good with about 2.6m. Total will really depend on how fast it fades after the holidays but it should be able to get to 4m at the very least. A 4.7m finish could be in the works.

Goro Miyazaki's 2nd time in the director's chair comes courtesy of From Kokuriko Hill, based on the same name from the manga. After his disastrous turn bringing Tales from Earthsea to life, many questioned whether or not he was ready to direct. It only captured $886,000 in Hong Kong, which for a Japanese animated release isn't great. His directing debut will cause some apprehension among local Japanese anime lovers but to counteract this, Intercontinental has been previewing the movie for 2 weeks, hoping to gain some traction before the holidays. The good reviews from Japan will quell fears of a 2nd misfire for most viewers and many will bring their parents or significant others along with them. It is ranked near dead last in the polls for what people want to see this weekend but kids films end up doing the talking at the box office. One significant problem that Kokuriko Hill faces is how badly Puss in Boots has an effect on it come Saturday. Past data suggests that the two will be able to co-exist on the biggest holiday of the year but one of the two will most definitely overshadow the other especially in the coming weeks as there won't be any major animated releases until Easter.

  1. Chances of #1 - 20%. The two weekends of special screenings will help but its chances of #1 depend on how well Journey 2 does.
  2. Status - Contender. With little in the way of competition, this should hold well in later weeks pushing its cume into the 2m ranks.
  3. Predictions - Weekend should come in at about $775,000. It would be close to Tale From Earthsea's total and will handily dispatch of it come the end of the holidays on Wednesday. Saturday will be the day to look out for if you're a fan of this movie or anime in general. How much it increases will tell us which of the two will dominate over the holidays and throughout its run. First week returns should be about 1.2m. With a light schedule for the next few weeks, this should glide to about 2.1m.

Christian Bale made international headlines when he tried to visit an activist under house arrest and subsequently was punched, beaten and chased for 40 minutes by car before making it out. Bale sparked controversy but he did put his new film on the map in the process. The Flowers of War officially opens in Hong Kong this week after having a month of special screenings. With each weekend of advanced previews, new theaters were added and consequently the film saw increases up until last weekend. The film is sharing the biggest screen with Journey 2 but Flowers of War is relying on positive word of mouth from the sneaks and Christian Bale's face to get viewers in. Many are curious and with it being the only drama of the weekend, this will bring in older people. Polls have shown this to be ahead of the kids fare but behind the rest of the openers in terms of what people want to see which is no surprise.

  1. Chances of #1 - 20%. As the only film with 4 weekends of special screenings included into the weekend gross, this will boost its chances of rising spots but not so much make a claim for #1. The only way I see this hitting #1 is if Journey 2 and Kokuriko Hill do not perform up to expectations.
  2. Status - Contender. Later on, it won't drop as hard in the beginning but next weekend marks the start of the Oscar season in Hong Kong so dramas will be released every weekend up until awards season is over. This could affect the film's performance later on with heavier declines. If the film wins the Oscar for Foreign Language film, increases will be in store.
  3. Predictions - Including previews, this should place in the top 3 and score a 3rd place finish. Weekend tally with previews will be fairly good at $670,000. Holidays will help the least for this movie as many will take their kids out to watch a kids movie or a Chinese New Year movie so a first week of about 1m seems to be in store. Drama films generally enjoy good holds so I see this one hanging on towards a 1.9m end.

Dante Lam's follow-up to The Stool Pigeon is the big-budgeted action film The Viral Factor. Made from a 17m budget, this will do fairly well. Nicholas Tse reunites with Lam in this and pairs up with popular Chinese musician/actor Jay Chou. The film will begin showing on Wednesday with nightly sneaks up until its official release on Saturday. UA has been a huge supporter and has placed this in the biggest screens but Broadway remains relatively level instead placing this in the 3rd or 4th biggest screens on Thursday/Friday. As the only action film, viewers will have slim pickings for an escapist action film this holiday weekend, but this will do quite well being the lone local action drama release. Turnout with sneaks will be steady with the early birds wanting to watch it on Wednesday night before settling in with the weekend viewers. It is running middle of the pack in polls behind the 2 Chinese New Year-related offerings and Journey 2 but business has been not bad so far.

  1. Chances of #1 - 0%. The official Saturday release kills any chance. The sneaks will help though and it could produce a top 3 showing should Flowers of War or Kokuriko Hill falter.
  2. Status - Contender. Although it will face competition from Chronicle, Haywire, Contraband and other action releases in February, it can enjoy at least 1 extra weekend to itself the weekend after. Being the lone local release will help as well with the Chinese New Year releases falling by the wayside.
  3. Predictions - While a top 3 finish is not of the question, The Flowers of War is simply ahead of it due to having 4 weekends of previews. The Viral Factor will perform well over the holidays but won't increase as much as kid movies or the Chinese New Year-themed releases. First week should take in about 1.6m. It will have a solid 2nd weekend before getting bogged down a bit by the new action movies in February. It should be able to break 3m before closing with 3.1m.

I Love Hong Kong 2012 is the sequel to the 4.1m hit of the same name. Once again, this Chinese New Year-flavored movie will battle against a movie of its ilk as well as other offerings. The lineup this year is much stronger than in years past so this won't be the marquee event of the weekend. Moreover, with the holidays falling on weekdays this year, it won't see the typical Chinese New Year bump it usually gets. Instead, that will be put off until after the traditional 4 day weekend. The movie features a lot of Hong Kong stars but one could argue that the celebrities here are nothing more than decoration pieces. Most people go to see a Chinese New Year-themed movie because it's Chinese New Year, not for the starpower or any factors. Theaters have scheduled this in the smallest or 2nd smallest screens. Business has been light but that is expected as business will pick up significantly as we draw closer to the holiday. We may even see a changing of the guard with this increasing in screen sizes on the holiday itself but as far as the traditional weekend goes, this should be fairly mild with the exception of Sunday. This came in 2nd behind Journey 2 of the film you would most like to see during the holidays.

  1. Chances of #1 - 0%. The official Friday release kills any chance. The sneaks will help slightly but lack of business on Thursday/Friday will keep this down and prevent it from debuting on top like its predecessor.
  2. Status - Filler turned contender. Weak weekdays will give way to a very strong weekend culminating into a exceptionally strong holiday.
  3. Predictions - I Love Hong Kong 2012 will open with less than half of its predecessor but should keep up with better legs. $600,000 start wouldn't be awful for the weekend. Its first week, however, will be quite big thanks to the holidays. The Monday-Wednesday combo could combine for over 1m alone. First week prediction for now is 1.6m. Lunar New Year movies generally exhibit 2 weekends of good holds before disappearing. I suspect the same will occur with ILHK 2012 and it will end its run with 3m.

All's Well Ends Well 2012 will tussle with ILHK for the 2nd straight year but signs are pointing to a below average opening. While it stars Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Kelly Chen and others, like ILHK 2012, stars don't really matter on CNY. The main problem is that it's being scheduled in the smallest screens with limited showtimes. Out of the 2 CNY-themed releases, this is looking to be the worst of the two with polls suggesting that more people want to watch ILHK 2012 than this. Business has been very light with scattered selling here and there. Naturally, this will see a bump on the holidays but it will have to dodge some major competition including from ILHK 2012 to get there. Screens probably won't get upgraded as the weekend progresses as there are simply too many choices that moviegoers want to see over this.

  1. Chances of #1 - 0%. The official Friday release kills any chance. Lack of business on Friday will keep this down and prevent it from debuting on top like its predecessor.
  2. Status - Filler turned contender. Weak weekdays will give way to a fairly good weekend culminating into a strong holiday.
  3. Predictions - All's Well Ends Well 2012 will open with less than half of its predecessor but should keep up with better legs. It should lead off with about $525,000, well behind from the first one's OW. Its first week, however, will be OK thanks to the holidays. The Monday-Wednesday combo could combine for over $700,000 alone. First week prediction for now is 1.2m. Lunar New Year movies generally exhibit 2 weekends of good holds before disappearing. Last year's AWEW movie, however, had bad drops after New Year's so I think this will finish with about 2.1m.

Puss in Boots finally swashbuckles its way into theaters with a fairly unique release date pattern, opting for a Saturday release than a traditional Thursday one. The unconventional release, sparked by the CNY holidays falling on weekdays allows PIB to enjoy 5 great days of maximum potential from families. Already released in some parts of Asia back in November, there are some similarities to Kung Fu Panda 2 which was released much later in Hong Kong than most Asian markets. One thing that Puss in Boots has on its side is that it's not getting a China release so instead of people going to China to catch a movie, it could happen the other way around with this movie. Paramount/Dreamworks love to schedule children's films around holidays and it makes sense but the question to be asked is if the late release is hurting children's films in HK a la Kung Fu Panda 2. Still, there a lot of positives to this movie; great reviews, 3D ticket prices and lack of big ticket animated films from here on out. It does have another thing to worry about. It is facing From Kokuriko Hill which is expected to steal viewers away. The Muppets won't be much competition but it is still another kids film releasing on the same weekend. How well it manages to co-exist with FKH will be key. Polls have this running behind FKH but it is the farthest away from release and FKH already had special screenings. Theaters will probably schedule this on the biggest screens this weekend and it should play well through the holidays into February.

  1. Chances of #1 - 0%. The official Saturday release kills any chance. No business on the 2 weekdays means it will be impossible to catch up with other films.
  2. Status - Weekend filler but contender once released. This should play very strongly through the holidays and the weeks after.
  3. Predictions - The Shrek franchise has done very well in HK with the last one grossing 3.5m. Weekend should take in about $500,000 for the 2-day. First week should really add up nicely with about a 1.1m combined total from the 3 days. It all combines to form a 1.6m first week total. The later weekends will see little in the way of major kids releases so good holds will be expected. It might even see a 2nd weekend increase if word of mouth is strong. Total could end up with 3.3m.

The Muppets will be the weakest of the major traditional 4 day releases with limited showtimes and small screens. Business though has been fairly good for the limited showtimes that it has. It has major competition from From Kokuriko Hill and Puss in Boots on Saturday. Those 2 films will overshadow this movie and even though it has gotten rave reviews, there is a limit as to how many films can still generate decent business without getting squashed. This is tied with FKH in the polls and is ahead of PIB but without 3D prices or even a strong marketing push, this is destined to be one of the "losers" of the weekend.

  1. Chances of #1 - 0%. Limited showtimes means no chance for #1 glory.
  2. Status - Filler. This will be a pipedream by its 2nd weekend.
  3. Predictions - The Muppets isn't looking that great and might start off with less than $200,000 this weekend. A weekend of about $150,000 may have to suffice with PIB coming out on Saturday. The holidays will help slightly and it could hypnotize $350,000 worth of business for the 7-day week. It will fall off by its 2nd weekend with Naruto coming out so it should end with about $650,000.

A Happy Event is the lone limited release of the weekend. It should do about $20,000-25,000 for the weekend and a $50,000 week.

Holdover The Darkest Hour will crumble with the sheer number of releases coming out this week. An 85% dive would push it up to about $850,000.

The Great Magician should fare slightly better but not by much. A 75% decline would see its total climb to about $800,000.


For more information about this week or any other, visit this thread. -

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