Cloud Atlas floats atop the Chinese box office

Cloud Atlas destroys all competitors in China Photo: Cloud Atlas

BEIJING, January 5, 2013 – American audiences were considerably overwhelmed by the slew of films released in last year’s record breaking domestic box office. From Oscar nominees like Lincoln to blockbusters like The Avengers, the clutter and noise from these films and their marketing machines drowned out one of the quieter yet more significant films released in 2012, Cloud Atlas

In China, however, Cloud Atlas is on top of the Mainland and Hong Kong box offices, beating out other Hollywood and Chinese blockbusters and charming critics nationwide.

The October release date for Cloud Atlas in the United States was sandwiched between the big-budget summer and award season winter. Though ticket sales during this period are generally expected to yield low numbers, Cloud Atlas’s barely 27 million USD lifetime domestic gross was surprising. Further releases oversea with emphasis on the Russian market, where it performed unexpectedly well, brought its worldwide box office up to 85 million USD to date and though an improvement, the heavyset budget and marketing costs are holding the film’s profits below water.

The January 31st release date in the Chinese mainland coincides with the spring festival holiday; a release slot coveted by both foreign and domestic studios, therein pitting Cloud Atlas against a number of competitors including Skyfall, a film that grossed more than ten times the amount of Cloud Atlas internationally.

Against the odds, the Wachowskis’ film toppled all competitors both domestic and abroad. Chinese critics praise for the film seems almost religious. “Profound”, “thought provoking” and a “masterpiece of metaphors” are mere drops in the ocean of admiration that hail from the world’s most populous nation. In just four days of release the film has grossed 75,000,000 RMB, just over 12,000,000 USD, even with 40 minutes of film cut by government censors.

Over 10,000,000 USD of Chinese financing came from the company Dreams of Dragons. Executive producer Philip Lee has been building bridges between Hollywood and China for over a decade with films that include, the Oscar winning Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Forbidden Kingdom and The Dark Knight.

Overlooked and underrated, Cloud Atlas is overdue and well deserving of its new foreign found success and praise. The film curves the lenses of reality and wraps them around themes and concepts that are nearly impossible to explain, less etch into a two hour screenplay. Ambitious to say the least Could Atlas artfully and responsibly translates these lofty concepts in a language that speaks to the traditional nation. Far different than anything before released in China, the film has struck a chord with Chinese movie goers and its success in China proves that “all boundaries are conventions”.


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Dwain Worrell

A Georgia State University graduate, Dwain Worrell majored in theater with concentration in play and screenwriting. Dwain is a news  article translator in Beijing and a screenwriter.

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