China's new-year movie market is full of competition and surprise. And this New Year, the biggest surprise is a low-budget comedy Lost in Thailand. The 30-million-yuan ($4.8 million) production has set the highest-ever box office record among domestic feature films, raking in over 1 billion yuan ($130 million). So what's so amazing about this film?
There are long queues at this cinema in Xidan, one of Beijing's most lively commercial areas. It's been over three weeks since Lost in Thailand hit the big screen here, and audiences are still flocking to see the box office hit.
Audience member said, "I've come to watch Lost in Thailand. The Last Tycoon or Lost in Thailand. The three main characters are all very funny."
Box office official Liu Jian said, "We have 70 film screenings each day. Lost in Thailand has more than 30 screenings per day, and there are hardly ever any empty seats."
There are no famous stars among the cast, no spectacular 3D technology, and no massive budget. The success of Lost in Thailand has been a bit of a cinematic miracle. It's certainly had a lot of luck.
Xu Zheng is the director and hero of the film. He's played in dramas, films and in TV series. But he's not listed among China's top directors. Overnight though, Xu has become a box office champion director.
Xie said, "What really shocks me is the market's thirst for comedies. It's a powerful demand. I attended a press conference held at a cinema, and a cleaner told me Lost in Thailand was amazing. Some said they would take their parents to watch the movie again. Someone on weibo wrote that his mother was asking when they could go to see it. The film has attracted people who don't often go to the cinema."
(CNTV.cn January 4, 2013)