May 02, 2006


French poster for ELECTION 2A sharp-eyed reader in Hong Kong let us know that ELECTION 2 rocketed to a HK$5.6 million opening last weekend, and seems set to sail past the HK$10 million mark at the local box office, something that was unheard of for a Category III movie in recent years before ELECTION and SHA PO LANG did just that thing.

But there are a few rain clouds on the edge of this picture. ELECTION 1 grossed HK$5.7 million on its opening weekend last year, and while ELECTION 2 has gotten generally good reviews in HK, there are some bones of contention among the rank and file, ranging from disappointment with the focus on Louis Koo at the expense of the other characters, to criticism that the ending is simplistic. And, of course, the expected "it's too violent".

But with their combined budget at HK$50 million, any way you slice it there's almost no way for ELECTION 1 and 2 not to be profitable. Foreign sales were brisk for ELECTION 1 although they seem to have stalled at this point with no new territory sales in a while for the combined ELECTION 1 and 2 package. But there's still DVD to come, a UK release in June, and a potential North American sale somewhere off in the mists of the future.

On a side note: the Hollywood Reporter just weighed in with a very positive review. In the first paragraph they ask, "It's hard to say why To hasn't transcended cult/art house status outside of Asia and specialty festivals..." but they might want to consider the possibility that their extremely negative review for ELECTION bears some responsibility. After all, who would want to acquire or release a film that's been called, "A repellent movie filled with gratuitous violence, ELECTION is bound to find an appreciative audience among those who like their cinematic criminals noisy, stupid and deadly."

(And that's the French poster for ELECTION 2 in all its tiny postage stamp glory.)

May 2, 2006 at 07:04 AM in News | Permalink


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Just a quick correction. SHA PO LANG only made HK$7.42 million but that's still an incredible number. The film had no big stars in it (ELECTION had Tony Leung Kar-fai and Louis Koo who are huge) but it still managed to be number 1 at the box office two weekends running. Plus, its overseas sales seem to be stronger than ELECTION 1 and 2, in large part due to its highly successful screenings at the Midnight Madness part of the Toronto Film Festival.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | May 2, 2006 9:47:09 AM

Thanks to the reader who corrected my numbers.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | May 2, 2006 9:47:30 AM

According to Wu-Jing.org, SPL's budget came in at HK $30 million(a little under 4 mil, American). I know that international sales can turn the tide for a lot of lower budget films (how else do you explain the Steven Seagal direct-to-video parade going on nowadays), but SPL was a modest hit in Hong Kong and still came up far short of earning its production costs back.

If that's a hit, I fear very much for the HK film industry. The vast majority of their stuff doesn't get close to the international play that SPL got, and has to rely on the pan-Asia circuit to make money. With rampant piracy eating away their ancillary revenue, and quite frankly, theatrical takes looking less and less appealing (who really makes a killing from Singapore anyway?), how the heck does that industry keep chugging along when 80% of their films don't have any hope of breaking even?

Somebody explain the economics of this to me, please.

Posted by: Max K. | May 2, 2006 11:28:12 AM

I think because ELECTION and SHA PO LANG are action films (roughly) they do tend to cost more than a drama or a comedy. That's why action movies from HK have been so rare in recent years: the risk just isn't worth it. But take a romantic comedy with the Twins in it. The major cost is the Twins' salary. Then it'll sell to Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and possibly Thailand. It will do video business in each of those countries and may make some minor international sales as well (a small one to the US and Canada). It will sell DVDs and VCDs internationally and probably a soundtrack album. It'll also sell the DVD in China, most likely.

Then there's TV sales to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and maybe overseas. It makes the money back mostly through ancillary revenue, and in dribs and drabs. But occasionally a movie like WU YEN or NEEDING YOU will come out with a modest budget, but that generates a huge amount of box office and everyone buys a fancy cigars.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | May 2, 2006 3:12:47 PM

SPL's budget came in at HK $30 million. For the standard of international market, it is just a low-budget movie. For this low-budget movie, its overseas sales seems to enough to make this movie to become be profitable.

Posted by: no name | May 2, 2006 7:11:04 PM

So...when is the HK DVD of ELECTION 2 due out? Ever since you disclosed that 9 minutes had been cut from the version being shown in Malaysian theatres, I've been hankering to check out the HK DVD of the movie!

Posted by: YTSL | May 3, 2006 12:20:15 AM

Latest on Election 2's box office - HK$8.3 in 6 days

It's encouraging to see that the difference between the per day take of the opening weekend(HK$1.4 million for each of 4 days) and midweek (£1.35 million for each of two)is minimal. At this rate it be only a little shy of HK$10 million in its opening week!

Posted by: David Harris | May 4, 2006 12:38:19 AM

Latest box office tally for Election 2

HK$11.2 million in 11 days (it was HK$8.3 million in 6 days so it's only added HK$2.9 million in the next 5) - it should have enough legs to best Election's final tally

Posted by: David Harris | May 9, 2006 4:54:46 AM

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