Interpret Weekly: Asia Entertainment 10/25/2021

Bona Film Group Warner Bros./Legendary East China Film Co.

The Battle of Lake Changjin, which added $32.3 million this weekend, has now earned an astounding $828.1 million, and it will likely become China’s biggest film of 2021 — which is to say, the biggest movie in the world this year — unseating Chinese New Year comedy Hi, Mom.

Dune‘s opening haul is Hollywood’s fourth-biggest of 2021 in China, trailing a trio of far less cerebral tentpoles: F9: The Fast Saga, Godzilla vs. Kong and Free Guy. The opening also marks a China best for Villeneuve, beating his prior sci-fi stunners Blade Runner 2049 ($7.6 million) and Arrival ($7.3 million). Dune‘s social scores in China reflect a reality widely anticipated by local box office analysts — high marks from Chinese film buffs but softer numbers from mainstream moviegoers in provincial regions of the country.

Holdover title, Venom: Let There Be Carnage comfortably defeated new release Dune at the South Korean box office over the last weekend. Dune managed to earn $2.54 million between Friday and Sunday, which was equivalent to a 39% share of the total market. Over its five opening days, the sci-fi epic earned a total of $3.47 million. Venom 2 had opened a week earlier with a $6.71 million debut that counts as strong in the current malaise. It dropped 56% from its first to second weekend, but still claimed a 46% share of the nationwide theatrical market with a $2.98 million weekend.

Ryoo Seung-wan’s hit action-thriller Escape from Mogadishu came away from the recent 30th Buil Film Awards with the Best Film award. Ryoo’s film, which is the highest-grossing film at the Korean box office this year, topped the night with a total of six awards.

Escape from Mogadishu also picked up the Best Screenplay award for Ryoo and co-writer Lee Gi-cheol, the Best Supporting Actor award for Huh Joon-ho, as well as a Popular Star award for Zo In-sung and several technical prizes for Best Cinematography (Choi Yeonghwan) and Best Music (Bang Junseok).

Tencent recently sent out an internal letter to its employees around the world, indicating the establishment of a new “F1” studio under its subsidiary TiMi Studio Group that will involve employees across China, the United States, Canada, and Singapore. A company employee who declined to be named said the new F1 studio – referring to “the future”– is essentially about the metaverse. In September, Tencent filed to register nearly 100 metaverse-related trademarks, including “QQ Metaverse,” “QQ Music Metaverse,” and “Kings Metaverse” – corresponding to the names of the company’s messaging app, music-streaming platform, and marquee mobile game Honor of Kings.

Founded in 1998 by Goichi Suda, Grasshopper Manufacture is best known for games like Killer 7, Lollipop Chainsaw, and No More Heroes. Most recently, the studio released No More Heroes III on Nintendo Switch.

Monster Hunter World has now surpassed 20 million units sold, according to Capcom. The game released in January 2018 and is up from 17.3 million sold as of the end of June. Capcom’s second best-selling game, Resident Evil 7, just passed 10 million shipments and Nintendo Switch title Monster Hunter Rise has sold 7.5 million copies as of September 24 to become yet another massive success story for the series. A PC edition is coming in January 2022.

South Korea’s oldest K-pop house SM Entertainment may go under CJ ENM, a deal that could reshape the Korean media and entertainment scene if realized.

The Korean pop culture industry has been stirred by news that SM Entertainment’s founder and chief producer Lee Soo-man is looking for a buyer for his stake. Lee owns 18.72% of SM Entertainment, a label behind K-pop superstars including EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, and aespa. His holding is worth 323.1 billion won ($273.3 million) based on SM’s market capitalization as of Monday.

Bandai Namco has announced that it is reorganizing its IP Production Unit companies by bringing the three visual businesses, as well as three music and live event businesses, under one roof. Sunrise will handle the newly combined visual business company, which will consist of Sunrise, Bandai Namco Arts’ video contents, and Bandai Namco Rights Marketing. Bandai Namco Arts will focus on the music and live events company, which will consist of Bandai Namco Arts’ music contents, Bandai Namco Live Creative, and Sunrise Music.

Chief among the new programming are two collections that the company likened to a metaverse, which are “able to transfer people into another world through immersive stories.” The new breed of shows aspires to forge new relationships between viewers and content, use boundary-breaking technology to enable interaction between characters, scenes, and stories, and make viewers into active participants who experience stories and evolve along with the content.

Chiefs of South Korea’s top internet tech firms Naver and Kakao vowed to go more aggressive in global forays to address the dominance issue on home turf while asking for government and legislative attention to reverse discrimination versus multinational platform operators.

Naver reportedly pays 70 billion won ($60 million) in network usage fee a year and Kakao 30 billion won. However, foreign firms providing internet-based service in Korea, like Netflix and Google’s YouTube pay nothing to local network operators, although they account for a huge portion of local network usage.