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HK Spotlight: You Are the Apple of My Eye

You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年, 我們一起追的女孩)
Release Date: October 20, 2011
Opening: $1,482,195
Total: $7,975,115 (5.38 multiplier)

When one looks back on the Hong Kong box office of 2011, the huge success of the Taiwanese film You Are the Apple of My Eye will undeniably be praised and talked about. It was this film that shook the huge city during one of the dullest months of the box office calendar year and took the city through a trip down memory lane. The film, based on the director Giddens Ko's autobiography novel of the same name, is a classic coming of age story and romance film where all the guys of a high school chase after the same girl. Bogged down by issues of funding and finding a distributor, Giddens managed to fund the film by taking from his own pocket and found Fox who agreed to distribute the movie.

In Hong Kong, the love story opened unofficially on the September 29 long weekend to gather steam for its upcoming official release on October 20. The film played well with advanced screenings for several weeks before opening wide on October 20. There, this love tale opened with a monstrous 1.35m in its first official weekend. Its opening day was a bit slow with only 18,995 reported from 80% of the theaters. Friday saw it almost triple Thursday's admissions, however, and that paved the way for another immense increase on Saturday. Saturday nearly doubled Friday's admissions and it came in with an astounding 100,000 admissions. Sunday was no slouch either, falling by only 6%. Over 265,000 tickets were sold for You Are the Apple of My Eye on its opening weekend and its OW gross ranked #6 of the year behind the 5 3D releases. And that was only the beginning.

In its 2nd weekend, its 2nd Thursday increased from its opening Thursday and Saturday saw its best admissions yet with 114,714 tickets purchased. When its 2nd weekend figures were tallied, You Are the Apple of My Eye defied expectations once again and increased 1% from its opening weekend. Its 2nd weekend increase is only reminiscent of Avatar, which shot up an incredible 44% on Christmas weekend. Apple of My Eye, however, had no such holiday to boost its weekend total which makes its 2nd weekend even more impressive. By this time, it was already up to 3.65m and was closing in on the top 5 fast. 3 days after, it shot up to an eye-popping 4.3m before the start of its 3rd weekend.

With widespread WOM and an online grass roots campaign to bring in more people to watch, it stayed on top on its 3rd weekend and corralled another 1m+ from moviegoers which sent its total spiralling past 5m in just 18 days. This not only represented a huge milestone broken for the Taiwanese hit but also saw it ran past 2 3D films in Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy and Kung Fu Panda 2. It also is the only film of 2011 to have 3 weekends over 1m. After 3 full weeks, it was already up to 5.8m, beating such films like Ip Man 2, Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The only question on everyone's mind at this point was could it take down Stephen Chow's reign of supremacy at the box office? That question would only be fueled by its 4th weekend's slight misstep backwards.

Continuing its good streak of fortune, its 4th weekend saw no major releases out. It was here that many seem to think would decide You Are the Apple of My Eye's fate: will it or won't? In the midst of no competition, Apple of My Eye lead once again but fell a somewhat big 43% pushing its cume to a staggering 6.4m. The dip wasn't bad by Hong Kong standards but for a movie with amazing drops and little competition, this looked terrible by comparison. For a movie that needed a good hold to avoid getting screens cut the week after by Immortals, it didn't do much to sway opinions, good or bad. Apple's next weekend would be its first major test as Immortals was the first legitimate threat it faced its entire run.

Apple's run at #1 would end at 4 weeks as Immortals took over for Apple on its 5th weekend. While it didn't become the 2nd movie to stay at #1 for more than a month, it did lead the rest of the 2011 releases for most weeks spent at #1 for the year. More importantly, it didn't fare too badly at all even with the increased competition. It slid 47% to post a $358,021 weekend. At this stage, Apple of My Eye jumped past the 7m barrier but the big question didn't go away at all...would it become the highest grossing Chinese film of all-time? The answer was made only slightly clearer in the next couple of weeks that followed.

Its 6th weekend saw the release of Tintin out. If Apple of My Eye was to really go for the crown, it would need to have an exceptional drop against Tintin. Tintin disappointed and Apple of My Eye enjoyed another weekend decline below 50%. Its total was boosted to 7.39m and it was a hair below 7.5m after 6 full weeks. Now with those 2 openers gone, Apple was thought to have a great chance of pulling off great drops in the following 2 weeks before the big battle in the middle of December.

7th and 8th weekends yielded an answer that many didn't want to see. It had good but not exceptionally great drops against the new releases and was already down to just $76,000 for its 8th weekend and with Mission Impossible 4 and Sherlock Holmes 2 set to do battle, Apple of My Eye's shot at becoming the biggest Chinese film of all time looked like it was on life support.

It survived its 9th weekend with a 65% fall, one of only 3 movies to have a decline 70% or lower. While showtimes got cut badly, it managed to come in with $27,000 for the weekend and its total inched up to 7.799m, $100,000 off of Kung Fu Hustle's gross. By Wednesday, that gap shortened to $87,000 but many were losing hope considering the new releases on Christmas week and continued strong support for the 2 sequels would kill off any chance of Apple taking its biggest accolade.

On Christmas week, you could say that You Are the Apple of My Eye had gotten a present of its own. It rose 13% from the weekend before, the only wide release to increase on Christmas which gave new life to Apple passing Kung Fu Hustle. It was still $50,000 behind Hustle, but slid into #2 ahead of Shaolin Soccer.

New Year's week saw the beast finally taken down as You Are the Apple of My Eye unseated Stephen Chow's 10-year reign of having the highest grossing film in Hong Kong on the last day of the year in HKD. It soon passed the same milestone in US$ albeit it came a day or two late. On January 1, 2012, You Are the Apple of My Eye stood at 7.897m and passed 7.9m sometime Monday-Wednesday.

Now with its biggest achievement finally done and out of the way, it was time to turn its attention on its remaining box office. How much could it make from now till the end of its run? Could it actually go ahead and break 8m? It got off to a very good start and fell just 30% the weekend after the New Year. In its 13th weekend, it had another drop below 30%, By now, it was already up to 7.946m and would pass 7.95m within a few days. With the Chinese New Year holidays, it wasn't unfeasible to think that maybe, just maybe, Apple of My Eye would surprise us once more and glide past 8m.

It was not to be as on Chinese New Year weekend, the 9 new openers killed almost very holdover and Apple of My Eye plunged with a 62% fall. While it was a good hold for all releases that weekend, Apple of My Eye was making peanuts by then. 7.954m was its total after 14 weeks in release.

It saw a decent hold the weekend after the holidays, down 27% but it was too little too late. It was only showing on 1 screen by then and it would have to be playing a lot of weeks to have a chance of passing 8m.

In its final weekend of release, its 16th, it fell 52%, signaling the end of a record-breaking film.

You Are the Apple of My Eye surpassed every prediction and in doing so became the highest grossing 2D movie in HKD. It dethroned longstanding recordholder Kung Fu Hustle and was the first time a Cantonese film was not #1 all time locally. It also became the first foreign language (non-Cantonese, English) film to spend 4 weeks at #1.  Its first 3 weekends were a force of nature and spectacular to look at. It fell 50% or more only 3 times in its 16 week run and 2 of those happened due to big battles: the December 15th showdown and Chinese New Year clash. It beat hot favourites like The Dark Knight, Inception and CJ7 and became the highest grossing film not released in the summer or winter. The insane run posted by this Taiwanese film is bound to cause filmmakers to run out and make the next You Are the Apple of My Eye in the next few years. While many imitators are sure to be on the horizon, none will ever truly be able to match the surprising drops and staying power this movie had.


Opening weekend - $1.48 million, 6th highest opening of 2011 [behind Transformers 3, Harry Potter 7-2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, Pirates 4], $40,000+ PTA
2nd weekend - 1% increase, $40,000+ PTA
3rd weekend - passed 5m, enters top 5 of 2011, only 2011 film to have 3 1m weekends
4th weekend - most number of weeks spent at #1 in 2011, 42% drop, passes 6.5m, enters top 3 of 2011
5th weekend - 47% drop with release of Immortals, passes 7m
6th weekend - 41% drop with Tintin opening
7th weekend - 44% drop, passes 7.5m
8th weekend - 35% drop
9th weekend - one of only 3 releases to drop below 65%, 9 weeks in top 5
10th weekend - 8% increase, passes Shaolin Soccer for #2 Chinese film all-time
11th weekend - becomes #1 Chinese language film of all-time beating Kung Fu Hustle
12th weekend - 30% drop
13th weekend - 28% drop
14th weekend - ...
15th weekend - 27% drop
16th weekend - [ties Inception for number of weeks in release], finishes with 7.975m

You Are the Apple of My Eye's run - BOM

For more information about this movie, visit this thread. - You Are the Apple of My Eye's run - WoKJ HK

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