Mel Gibson’s pacifist WW II drama Hacksaw Ridge has had an incredible run at the Chinese box office since its December debut and has just been granted a rare release extension. The film, which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival this past September and has become a force during awards season, has officially crossed the RMB 350M ($50.8M) mark in the Middle Kingdom. The global reported gross to date is $137M.
Thanks to the positive word of mouth (at release, Chinese online ratings site Douban had it at 8.8 out of 10), and the box office success, Hacksaw has been granted permission by the Middle Kingdom Censorship Bureau to extend its release for another 30 days in select theaters. That’s a rare move in a market that typically limits imports to one month. Previous Hollywood titles to be afforded the extra time include DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods and Disney’s Zootopia. Bliss Media is handling Hacksaw in China.
The successful performance is also partly down to a localized marketing and distribution campaign with a team on the ground in key cities.
When Hacksaw opened in the PROC in mid-December, it defied expectations to wrestle with Japanese juggernaut Your Name for the No. 1 spot, ultimately beating it on the Sunday of its launch weekend. It is the biggest imported war film of all time in the Middle Kingdom. Early on, it overtook such titles as Fury, War Horse and Saving Private Ryan.
The story of Desmond T Doss stars Andrew Garfield in the lead role and tells the incredible tale of the real-life conscientious objector who never carried a gun, yet saved dozens of men from the battle of Okinawa. It includes a latter half that’s heavy on action and gore, and will have faced cuts in the Middle Kingdom to tone some of that down. Nevertheless, it’s connecting.
Among its awards season accolades, Hacksaw won the AFI Movie of the Year Award; swept the Australian Film Academy’s prizes last month; has three Golden Globe nominations and two SAG noms.
Lionsgate has domestic on Hacksaw. Principal financiers were Cross Creek, Demarest Films and IM Global who acquired international rights for about half the film’s $40M budget and quickly sold the title around the world.