Skiptrace, the Jackie Chan-Johnny Knoxville action comedy directed by Renny Harlin, opened to big numbers in China. Grosses just in show that it pulled in a $62.2M purse and knocked out all the competition, including Warner Bros’ The Legend of Tarzan, which came in a distant second. To give an idea of how popular Skiptrace was, Tarzan‘s six-day gross in the country was only $27.3M. The opening in China also gives Chan his biggest ever opening in the Middle Kingdom for a live-action film.
It didn’t hurt that the $60M production of Skiptrace starred another beloved local star, Fan Bingbing. The film also debuted in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Romania and Bulgaria for a total gross of $64M in seven markets handled by Bloom International.
Stateside, the film is going to have an exclusive window with DirecTV first and then will get a theatrical release and an on-demand bow on September 2 courtesy of Saban Films and Lionsgate, which are handling here. Rated PG-13, Skiptrace is about a Hong Kong detective (Chan) who has to team up with an American fugitive gambler (Knoxville) to fight Chinese bad guys.
The film is a Chinese-HK production, and the characters speak both Chinese and English (yes, even Knoxville). It originally was going to be last year’s Christmas release in China, but then it was changed to this summer. The Chinese press is saying that it could be the only Chinese-language film that could gross 1 billion RMB (which translates to $153M).
Beijing Talent International Media Co. is the Chinese company behind the film. The local press is reporting that Beijing Talent worked out a deal with Alibaba, Shanghai Hehe Films and Tianjin Lianrui Pictures for the production budget and distribution and marketing costs and in return made a minimum box office guarantee of 1 billion RMB. The same deal apparently was cut for the box office hit The Mermaid — which ended up as China’s highest-grossing film ever.