For as successful a career as Jackie Chan has had in Asia and the United States, blockbuster openings aren’t that big of a deal.
After the past weekend (July 21st-24th), Chan can finally lay claim to his most successful debut in the Chinese market to date.
It’s all thanks to a film that most of us in America barely knew existed.
The Chinese blockbuster is Skiptrace, an action/comedy starring Chan and Johnnie Knoxville. The film was directed by Finnish filmmaker and Hollywood action veteran Renny Harlin. Harlin moved to Beijing two years ago to work in the fast-growing Chinese industry. The opening also is a career high for Harlin, topping Die Hard 2’s $34 million first weekend way back in 1990.
Johnnie Knoxville stars as a fast-talking American gambler. Chan, playing a Hong Kong detective, is forced to team up with Knoxville’s character after his niece (Fan Bingbing) runs into trouble with a notorious criminal mastermind. The movie was made on a production budget of $30 million.
Harlin has launched his own Chinese production company with financial backing from Jiabo Culture Group. He will next direct an adaptation of the popular Chinese video game Legend of the Ancient Sword for Jack Mae’s fledgling studio Alibaba Pictures Group.
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the film has earned $58.5 million this past weekend at the Chinese box office. This debut is Chan’s largest for the Chinese box office record. But Chan’s Rush Hour 2 still ranks as his highest American opening, with $67 million from that film’s 2001 debut.
Interestingly enough, the massive success of Skiptrace at the Chinese box office is something that relates to remarks Jackie Chan had made earlier this year. The action star spoke about how the Chinese film market has been growing to a point where the American market would start to “fear it”. Much like Warcraft set the Chinese market on fire, there’s a chance that distributors Saban Films and Lionsgate may be motivated to throw a little more money towards the American release of Skiptrace, which is currently set to debut as a DirecTV exclusive before going it’s September 2nd theatrical/ VOD release.
You can watch the trailer for the film below: