Sixteen years after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became a worldwide phenomenon, the sequel was unsheathed last Friday in China. After a week of play in a very competitive market, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny has grossed $32M. That’s more than double the Middle Kingdom lifetime of the previous film and sets up the international rollout as Netflix makes it available today in the U.S. and elsewhere abroad.
Sword Of Destiny is a co-production between The Weinstein Co, Netflix and China Film Group and gives the movie local Chinese status meaning TWC and Netflix recoup a higher percentage of the box office than if this had gone in under the quota system. The PROC release of the Yuen Woo-ping-helmed sort-of-sequel was handled by The Weinstein Co, Netflix and local partners Pegasus and CFG. Harvey Weinstein has called it “a summation of my lifelong passion for Chinese culture in general and wuxia cinema in specific.” He details his experience making the film here.
The China release came near the tail end of the Lunar New Year holiday period, opening with about $10M last Friday and landing No. 2 behind now all-time box office champ The Mermaid ($450M+). Sword Of Destiny held well during the past week even as folks returned to work and school. It’s stayed in the Top 3 throughout the frame which saw The Mermaid maintain the bulk of the territory’s screens during its third week. On Thursday, for example, there were a reported 63K showings of The Mermaid versus 32K of Sword Of Destiny which is running ahead of New Year hit The Man From Macau 3. That film incidentally stars Chow Yun-fat whose character died in the first Crouching Tiger.
Michelle Yeoh returns from the 2000 wuxia film alongside Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen (who’s next up in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and xXx), Harry Shum Jr and Jason Scott Lee. Talent came out to promote the film in the PROC well ahead of the release.
Yeoh reprises her role as Yu Shu-Lien, the renowned and lovelorn warrior who must protect the legendary Green Destiny sword against evil warlord Hades (Lee). Yen plays Silent Wolf, Shu-Lien’s former fiancé, who she thought had been killed by Hades years earlier.
Netflix’s global rollout began today in over 190 countries. This was born of a deal between the streaming giant and The Weinstein Co that was hatched in the fall of 2014. Sword Of Destiny is also hitting about a dozen IMAX screens today in North America.