Rush Hour fans are more likely to see a Jackie Chan musical before a fourth entry of the popular action franchise. Chan winced at mentioning the possibility of Rush Hour 4 during a conversation preceding the screening of his latest film, Chinese Zodiac, in New York. Chan held a public conversation at the Film Society of Lincoln Center preceding the screening. The actor attended the event to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Asian Film Festival.
"When I go to Hollywood, I don't get to do what I want to do," confessed the martial arts legend. "They always say: 'Hey, Jackie - Rush Hour 2! Rush Hour 4!"
Chan's last live-action Hollywood film was 2010's The Karate Kid remake, co-starring Jaden Smith. Chan explained that the role interested him because it showcased his acting abilities, a factor he believes is overlooked when receiving offers for Hollywood films. Jackie Chan has instead been focusing on his filmmaking career in his native Hong Kong, where he can produce projects on his own terms for a bountiful Asian film market. Chinese Zodiac is Jackie Chan's 101st entry in a lengthy filmography that has traversed the world since the late 1970s. Chinese Zodiac was a massive hit in China, the world's second most important film market, grossing an estimated $140 million. With a direct line to mainland's China audience, there is no rush for Jackie Chan to return to Hollywood for a project he doesn't believe in.
"Scripts, even today, are the same as forty years ago," expressed Chan, showing disappointment with the Hollywood offers he's received. "They only write: 'Funny fighting,' 'Serious fighting, 'Spectacular fighting!' Then I look at the writer and say, 'Yeah, spectacular, can you write a spectacular script?'"
The main difference in what Jackie Chan describes as the "Hong Kong" action-film production style begins at the script stage. "It's not like an American film where you have a whole script that you fill up with action. [In Hong Kong] we have all action that we fill up with script."
The 59-year-old actor has spent the bulk of his time producing films in Hong Kong, where he says the production style better suits the sensibility of his films. According to Chan, screenplays are rarely completed when films go into production. Rewrites are common and the scripts are closely guarded by the producers, with actors only receiving that day's pages worth of work without having read the entire screenplay. This has been the case for decades in Hong Kong, explains Chan, where shoots are streamlined and films are made as quickly and cheaply as possible. If the completed screenplay where to be distributed among production members, the film runs the risk of having the script leak and ultimately having a carbon-copy of the film hit theaters before the production is completed.
Jackie Chan's recent career decisions have been more geared to include social messages and positive role models. The result might be well intentioned but doesn't exactly work for Chinese Zodiac, which is weighed down by facile inspirational messages that come off as awkwardly preachy. It represents an improvement in Chan's own self-evaluation, as the actor shared with the audience at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. "I look back on Drunken Master II and think to myself, why am I telling people to drink and fight?"
Despite his reticence over another Rush Hour sequel, Jackie Chan did admit to being open to hear pitches for another installment. Next up for the actor is a role in the action-star anthology The Expendables 3. Instead of speaking about his return to Hollywood during a press conference at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Jackie Chan spent several minutes excitedly promoting an in-the-works autobiographical stage musical he is currently developing. The project is to be based on his memoir, "I am Jackie Chan." Jackie Chan had previously mentioned the project in a 2010 interview with Conan O'Brien. The world will have to wait to see if the stage musical is ever realized. If he can sing as well as he can fight, Broadway will have to keep a close eye on Jackie Chan.
MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd recently admitted he was hoping for a Hollywood-China relationship without an overseas quota, according to an interview the former Senator granted to Variety.
Dodd spoke to the trade publication from China, where he was meeting with Ci Fuchao, the new minister overseeing the State Adminitration of Radio, Film, and TV, and Tong Gang, head of China's Film Buraeu, the entity with the powerful to decide which overseas films make it to theaters.
The MPAA Chairman addressed several of Hollywood's existing concerns with the world's number two film market, including late payments and the infamous "blackout" periods that pull overseas films from release in order to give an advantage to Chinese productions. According to Variety, The Croods was recently pulled from theaters in order to give competing Chinese animated films a leg up around the Childrens' Day holiday. Fox last reported a $60.6 million cumulative gross for The Croods in China as of June 2.
China increased its state sponsored quota of overseas films for theatrical release in February 2012. The number nearly doubled, going from 20 films to 34. Chinese co-prodcutions are exempt from this quota. The specific limitations of a Chinese co-production, however, come at a creative cost for producers and filmmakers. Recent films like Iron Man 3 have instead opted for a hybrid approach, openly courting for approval from Chinese censors and audiences alike by avoiding potentially sensitive subject matter and including "China-friendly" cuts featuring scenes with popular Chinese actors. The strategy worked for Iron Man 3, which has already grossed a massive $120.6 million from the territory.
Chinese censors are difficult to convince, however, as other high-profile films have fallen out of favor and seen themselves locked out of the market. Django Unchained was pulled from theaters during its opening day, only to be rescheduled in a brutal release window in close proximity to the premieres of Oblivion and Iron Man 3. Django floundered upon its newly scheduled release, currently posting a meager $2.78 million in China. World War Z, a production which had been careful not to alienate Chinese censors in its globe-trotting zombie apocalypse storyline, was rejected by Chinese censors last week, according to a report from The Wrap.
The face-to-face meetings indicate hope for a closer working relationship between Hollywood and the world's second most important film market.
Star Trek Into Darkness led the Chinese box office in its first week in release, grossing $25.87 million in six days. It's not the blockbuster figure that Paramount might have been hoping for the sci-fi sequel, but is still more than the $23.49 million cume that Oblivion has grossed after 24 days in release. Meanwhile, Iron Man 3 continues to reach blockbuster milestones, reaching a $120.6 million cume in China after 33 days.
Domestic film American Dreams in China continued its healthy run in the box office, grossing $17.98 million last week for a $69 million cume. It is about half of what runaway success So Young has grossed, which is currently posing a $114.71 cume after 38 days.
Children's Day was celebrated in China on June 1st and brought about a number of new animated films for the demographic. Happy Little Submarine 3 - Rainbow Treasure, apart from being a leading contender for the best film title of the year, opened to a weekend gross of $6.82 million. The Adventures of Sinbad 2013 enjoyed a $4.64 million weekend, and Kui Ba 2 grossed $2.93 million over the holiday weekend. The Croods kept its strong hold-over performance in China by grossing $5.73 throughout the week, reaching a successful $62.37 million cume.
Weekly Box Office Results for China. Week ending on June 2, 2013.
Star Trek Into Darkness grossed $25 million in its opening week to become the top film in China, according to sources at Paramount. The sci-fi sequel played in over 8,000 cinemas and nearly tripled the overall cume of the previous film in the country. Children's Day, celebrated on June 1st, presented a great opportunity for the latest Star Trek entry, which proved popular with Chinese audiences. The holiday was also a highlight for The Croods, which grossed $2.5 million over the weekend, according to sources at Fox, a good hold after the previous week's 7-day $4.85 million take.
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that the $25 million debut from Star Trek Into Darkness was enough to overtake former #1 film American Dreams in China. THR's source claims the domestic film brought in $17.9 million last week to land in second place.
Entgroup tells BoxOffice that Star Trek Into Darkness has grossed $6.8 million as of May 29. The sci-fi flick started with preview shows on May 27 in China.