• Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back

Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back (Photo : The Dreamer - Luhan & Kris Wu/YouTube)

Lunar New Year is just about one week away which means besides going home to their provinces to celebrate Spring Festival, millions of Chinese would also flock to cinemas to watch local films.

Among the movies opening on Chinese New Year is Stephen Chow’s “Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back.” As the 2016 box-office king, Stephen Chow competes with himself since the record he has to break is his own “The Mermaid.”

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Breaking Own Record

Surpassing “The Mermaid” with its box-office receipts of more than $530 million, making it the highest-grossing movie in China, is a tough challenge for any moviemaker. However, to Stephen Chow’s favor, his 2017 offering is another adaptation from a classical fantasy novel “Journey to the West” and is a sequel to “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons” he directed in 2013.

“The Mermaid” actually broke the record of the first installment of “Journey to the West” which grossed 1.244 billion ($203.5 million) in mainland China. To draw a bigger crowd for the second installment, Stephen Chow released a new trailer which showed the Monkey King, two pigs and fish demon-turned-apprentices’ dark side, China.org reported.

The new trailers includes action and fight scenes that were not seen in previous trailers. Stephen Chow and Tsui Hark, director of “Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back,” plan to promote the film further in other cities in China to boost its box office earnings.

In 2016, the movies shown during the Lunar New Year earned a total of 3.4 billion yuan ($489 million) in the one week period Feb. 8 to 14. The bulk went to “The Mermaid.” Analysts, however, believe that while “Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back” could boost China’s film market during the Spring Festival, it could not beat “The Mermaid” or significantly hike the ticket sales growth rate for 2017.

The Competition

Other movies to be shown during the Spring Festival are “Kung Fu Yoga” starring Jackie Cha, “The Village of No Return” by Chen Yu-Hsun, the animated film “Bonnie Bears: Entangled Worlds” and “Duckweed” by Han Han. Chances of more Chinese trooping to theaters are higher because it is a holiday from Jan. 27 through Feb. 2 although the festival lasts for 15 days beginning with the first to the 15th day of the first lunar month.

During this time, the longest public holiday in China, most workers would be off from work for seven days while it is one month off from school for students, according to Travelchinaguide.