Last December 2, John Woo’s highly anticipated film The Crossing Part 1 premiered to a lukewarm response from the China audience. The box office result fell short from what was expected as it only earned a total of around 111 million RMB (US$18.6 million) after 6 days of release. During the first weekend of its release, it only managed to earn 58 million RMB (US$9.7 million), failing to reach the number one spot at the box office. Its earnings dropped down by 33% on the second day. The movie considerably fared better in Taiwan, as it made its way up to the number one spot of the box office, with an earning of 4.6 million RMB (S$763,000).
This epic film is now being considered by movie analysts as John Woo’s worst failure yet in his entire career of film making. Earning more than 100 million RMB on its first week is no easy feat and it would have been considered a very good result already had it been another movie. But The Crossing is not just another movie. It’s supposed to be THE movie for 2014. For starters, it has a whopping budget of roughly around 300 million RMB (US$48.6 million). That doesn’t include yet the expenses that they have to spend for its promotions. It also boasts off a stellar cast, featuring the who’s who in the Asian entertainment industry. Not to mention the renowned and multi-awarded director at its helm. So what actually went wrong? I haven’t watched the movie yet so I can’t give out my own opinion with regards to its quality. For now, let us just take a look at what the movie analysts have to say on why this movie didn’t quite meet its expectations at the box office.
The movie analysts said that the main problem of this movie is that it’s too long. What could have been shown in 2 hours was drawn out for 4 hours instead. They said it would have been better if they just added in an extra 30 minutes or even an hour to the movie instead of creating a second part. It also didn’t help that the audience found the first part to be too boring to hold their interests for two hours. Some people who have already watched the movie said that it was too draggy and without any climax. But why should there be a climax when that is yet to happen on part two where it should highlight the sinking of the ship.
There are two reasons the movie analysts see as to why the movie was divided into two parts. First reason is because of greed for money. Since the movie was done on a large scale, plus with all the hype surrounding it since its conception, expectations are much too high for this movie to do well at the box office. The investors are expecting at least around 1 billion RMB in revenue, which is something that’s quite hard for one movie to achieve. The people behind the film then decided that the best way to earn that big was to divide the movie into two parts. That would give them a better chance of doubling their earnings. Unfortunately, their plan backfired as part 1 performed way below their expectations at the box office. The pressure is now a lot greater on the second part of the movie to perform better at the box office. It has to earn around 300 million RMB for it, at the very least, to break even.
Another reason for the two parts is the presence of many big stars in one film. And it’s not just big stars, but THE big stars in Asian entertainment. This movie boasts the presence of Zhang Ziyi, Song Hye Kyo, Masami Nagasawa, Huang Xiaoming, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tong Dawei. Cramming all these big stars in a two-hour movie would make their roles, and their presence, rather minuscule and insignificant. John Woo wanted to put emphasis on the love stories of the three couples, and he just couldn’t do that in under two hours. Maybe he also wanted to give each star their much deserved screentime (perhaps their “promised” screentime), and two hours were just not enough to make that possible. In order to solve that dilemma, the movie was stretched out into four hours long instead.
But it is not yet abandon ship for this movie. They still have another shot at the box office when its second part premieres on May 2015. They can only hope (and pray) now that there’ll be no other good movies that will be released during that same time period. Otherwise, The Crossing might meet its final iceberg that will forever sink it to oblivion.