American sci-fi blockbuster approaches 100 mln yuan mark at box office

Hit sci-fi epic “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” released by 20th Century Studios and Disney has racked up more than 90 million yuan ($12 million) in China’s box office chart since its release on May 10, and looks set to proceed towards the 100 million yuan mark within days.

The strong performance of “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” which was released in a variety of formats including IMAX, is in many ways due to its thrilling and stunning visual effects, as Weta’s Erik Winquist, who has nearly 20 years of experience in visual effects, pointed out in his first big reveal of a key landscape shot as an example:

“This long aerial shot that takes us down a river, and we kind of see the skyscrapers open up in front of us. I’d been watching that on loops for weeks and weeks by that point I thought, ‘this going to be great.’ And it wasn’t until I was sitting close to a very big screen in a screening room and actually watching it in full, that I realized how much more information was there, as I kind of had almost really been cued in on just sitting close to a regular-sized screen, which was really eye-opening. So, you can imagine you take that screening on IMAX size, the experience is going to be really fantastic.”  

An IMAX poster for the American sci-fi blockbuster. /Photo provided to CGTN

An IMAX poster for the American sci-fi blockbuster. /Photo provided to CGTN

As the 10th movie in the “Planet of the Apes” franchise that began as early as 1968, “Kingdom” arrived to strong reviews, positive buzz, and a “fresh” ranking of 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. 

A screenshot of the Rotten Tomatoes web page. /CGTN

A screenshot of the Rotten Tomatoes web page. /CGTN

While some Chinese theatergoers praised the way the production’s CGI had caught up with its primates-on-horseback aesthetic, others expressed their dissatisfaction that the latest two-and-a-half-hour installment was a bit too long, adding that the pace of plot development was far from ideal.

A screenshot of a Douban web page showing viewers’ assessment. /CGTN

A screenshot of a Douban web page showing viewers’ assessment. /CGTN

On Douban, China’s best-known movie review site, viewers gave a 6.5 rating for “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” the fourth movie in a reboot film project that kicked off in 2011 with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” It was later followed by “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” in 2014 and “War for the Planet of the Apes” in 2017.

Focusing on Caesar, an evolved chimpanzee leader, the previous three reboots were huge global successes, grossing more than $1.68 billion worldwide, including $225 million from Chinese audiences, according to a report on China.org.cn.