Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, March 13, 2004

'The Lord of the Rings' comes to China

The King is returning to China, promising great box office returns.


The King is returning to China, promising great box office returns.

To welcome the Return of the King, Beijing cinemas sold tickets for the third of JRR Tolkien's trilogy, adapted for the screen by New Zealand director Peter Jackson, from 6 p.m. Thursday until 3 a.m. Friday. A ticket costs 150 yuan.

Xindongan Cinema alone reported 20,000 yuan in ticket sales, according to the cinema's marketing manager Li Kefei.

Given that the first part of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was a box office hit notching up 3 million yuan in his cinema in 2002, Li Kefei estimated the box office would hit 2 million yuan at least. As for the Xinyinglian Cinema Line consisting of 57 theaters, including Xindongan, box office income is expected to reach 10 million.

The second part, The Two Towers, had a short run, stopping on the first day it screened due to the SARS epidemic last year.

Peter Jackson's trilogy has galvanized Chinese audiences in a very special way. Said Liu Yi, a screen writer, "My wife and I are almost petrified by the Lord's computer graphics and music, so powerful that you want to run for your life when the evil volcano erupts in front of you, or throw yourself into the war to destroy the ring."

The special effects seem the most appealing part of the movie. Josef Fung, a composer from Ice Island says "they play with technology in such a marvelous way that the movies are so dramatic,yet so human and real."

At the premier ceremony, the New Zealand Ambassador to China John Mckinnon said, "the film represents New Zealand, its stunning scenery, creative thinking and efficient staff."

Although the films have won its country international acclaim and recognition, a New Zealander who declined to be identified said, "yes, it's a nice movie in a sense of visual effects. But, Ijust cannot see that it's a New Zealand movie. Rather, it's a Hollywood production in disguise."

Actually, the finance and movie promotion company do come from the United States. However, Chinese audience such as 25-year-old Wei Liang don't see anything wrong with Hollywood air in a New Zealand film.

"Movie is an art of suspense and entertainment. No matter who produces it, it must have a hook to keep audiences in their seat. I don't think any Chinese director could shoot such a film. It's not a matter of investment. It's a concept that counts. Most domestic filmmakers are still limited to the Monkey King." Li Kefei admits that box office takings of foreign blockbusters always exceed domestic ones.

"The story is fantastic, and the story-telling is attractive plus dazzling special effects. I myself am a fan of the magic rings." Screening good foreign films is like a culture exchange. Hopefully, Li said, the Return of the King could inspire "Chinese film makers to rejuvenate domestic films."

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