Shark thriller Bait 3D has grossed an impressive $7.2 million at the China box office after just three days.

The Australian film outperformed global hit Taken 2, opening in the number one position across more than 1700 screens, according to Screen Australia. Bait 3D, which attracted a lacklustre response from Australian audiences, has also performed strongly in other countries such as Malaysia and Russia.

Bait 3D director Kimble Rendall, in China for the film’s launch with actor Sharni Vinson, said Chinese distributors Yunnan Film Group and Enlight Media had undertaken a massive publicity campaign for the film.

“We have been absolutely thrilled with the campaign undertaken by Yunnan and Enlight who could really see the potential for Bait 3D in the Chinese market,” Kimble said in a statement. “Their faith has been vindicated by this stunning result, which follows box office success for the film in other countries including Malaysia where it has taken $US1.2 million, as well as Russia, Italy and Vietnam.”

It is a welcome result for the producers after a lacklustre local performance. Bait 3D has grossed almost $1 million after three weeks – a poor result for Australian distributor Paramount which initially opened the film on 283 screens.

However, the Australian market is producing an increasing number of films which are appealing to international audiences as much as, if not more than, local audiences. In 2010, local cave-thriller Sanctum followed a similar box office performance, posting better results in countries such as Brazil, Italy and Japan than Australia.

China, which still limits the number of foreign films which can be shown in its cinemas, is one of the fastest growing cinema markets in the world, particularly for 3D fare. However, obtaining accurate box office figures and extracting receipts has been an ongoing issue for producers. Other challenges include higher taxes that apply to foreign movies released in China and a far lower cut of the box office gross than in developed markets.

Bait 3D was acquired by the Chinese distributor under a flat-fee purchase arrangement (the producers and investors did not directly share in the impressive China box office result).

Last year, Australian-China co-production The Dragon Pearl grossed $US4.87 million in China according to Box Office Mojo. Another Australian-Chinese co-production, 33 Postcards, also had a widespread release in China although its box office figures were not reported.

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bcswift.

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1 Comment

  1. Yay! Are Australian producers taking notice? This is a vindication of a common complaint industry observers have about Australian films that perform poorly – PUBLICITY.

    It probably helps that the territories in which this film is doing well are non-English speaking and may not be able to assess the quality of acting while they are listening to the dubbed foreign language version or reading the sub-titles, and for the success of our industry that is not a negative.

    As I said last month about this film on its release in Australia: “I know how many people flock to well-publicised garbage versus not seeing an under-promoted semi-decent or good film.”

    Again, why produce a film if it is not promoted? Let this be a case study on how to attract an audience into a cinema.

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