“Journey to the West” Soars to 1.1 Billion RMB; Profit Dispute Remains

With a record box office income of 1.1 billion RMB 17 days after it was aired, Stephen Chow’s (周星馳) Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons <西遊.降魔篇> does not show signs of slowing down. The film is on the verge of overtaking Avatar as the highest grossing movie in China. Behind the scenes, a disagreement is slowly unfolding between director Stephen Chow’s Bingo Group and its Chinese partner, Huayi Brothers, over the distribution of the movie’s profits.

The controversy started on when Huayi Brothers’ CEO, Wang Zhonglei (王中磊) announced on his Weibo, “Journey to the West is Huayi’s first production, distributed in China. And the highest grossing film ever!” Two days later, it issued an official notice stating the filming studio is not only the mainland Chinese distributor of the film, but also an investor. This claim differs widely from Bingo’s announcement made last November, which did not name Huayi as one of the film’s financiers.

Last Monday, when Journey to the West broke through the 1 billion RMB record, Huayi released another notice stating that the company should be receiving pre-tax profits of 196 million RMB from the film. On the same day, Bingo issued a notice saying that Huayi would receive 12 percent of the film’s net profits as the distributor plus an additional share of box-office dividends, while the investors, which does not include Huayi, will obtain about 70 percent of the net income calculated from distribution of the film in mainland China.

The following day, Huayi retaliated by posting yet another notice declaring Huayi and Bingo have already signed an agreement that that it should be Huayi which should receive the 70 percent of the net income from its earnings in China. Yesterday, Huayi continued with its claim by posting on its Weibo that on top of the distribution fees, it should get to enjoy at least 70 percent of the film’s net takings which could amount to as much as 267 million RMB.

If the profits dispute continues, the matter may need to be settled in court.

Stephen Chow’s Response

In a telephone interview, Stephen said, “The matter is too complicated for me to explain within a few words. Anyway, the company is already looking into it. As of now, I have nothing much to add.” Considering the close relationship between Wang Zhonglei and Stephen previously, this matter may just be as delicate as it is complicated.

In related news, Stephen indicated that Journey to the West’s successful box office reception was within his expectations. “One billion RMB is within my expectations. I had confidence that the audience will like this film.” Although viewers miss his onscreen performances, Stephen remained noncommittal as to whether he will act again. He continues to exhibit a strong interest in all aspects of film production, including action choreography and lighting.

Source: Sharp Daily; Netease.com

This article is written by Karen for JayneStars.com.  

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  1. Could Stephen Chow please make a movie with Tony Leung Chiu Wai in it? It would be amazing!

    1. LOL That would be so interesting! Tony Leung can be real funny. Should totally cast him, but the problem is the costars gotta be up there too and thats gonna cost even more money than paying just Tony and if not with other big names, Tony will just overshadow them every time he comes on screen and everyones just gonna focus on him.

      1. Tony is a real comedian in the Mountain deer duke movie version. Its so nice if Stephen invite Tony for a comedy.

    2. Yup, I can totally see Tony Leung being cast in something like putting his a$$ on a slingshot

    3. I read some news regarding Stephen’s difficulties in communication where he pissed Hung Kum bo off during the making of his movie.Hung quit half day while helping him on the kungfu part.

  2. the success of this movie is just going to continue to inflate stephens ego, making him into an ultimate douchebag

  3. Is it just me or this guy looks about 70 in this pic than his real age of 50? hahah OMG, all that money couldnt help him get a good stylist or whatever specialist huh?

    1. yes he has aged a ton, he also looks like a dead man walking, never smiles and probably cant feel happiness anymore from his interviews, kinda sad for him. well regardless of his dreadful looks, he’s still got the skills to make a highly likeable, entertaining, and bankable movie.

      huayi doesnt deserve 70% of the profits, since they are not the investors but only the distributors. it wont be fair to the actual real investors that made stephen’s film possible.

    2. Yes he looks older than his age. Never good looking when he was young, now just worst. Lucky for him he has $$$$

    3. He doesn’t care about his looks. He is beyond caring, since he has now moved to behind the camera. And I don’t care how he looks as long as he makes good films.

      As for the dispute in profits, well, a contract will settle that.

  4. Unexpectedly, the movie was well made with a depth under the laughs. I did think its a trashy one before watching it, but it proved me wrong. 4/5 stars.

  5. errr…don’t they believe in contracts? can’t imagine they invested millions without one. their bickering is silly and childish.

  6. To me ‘Journey to the West’ repeat of 2004 Kung Fu Hustle gimmick , nothing new but the visual effect had improved

    Most China Chinese may not seen 2004 Kung Fu Hustle , Journey to the West to them something new.
    No wonder Stephen target China Market

    1. I have seen both and almost all of Stephen’s movies and series. Yes there were a number of years of crap but King Of Comedy was a change of direction. CJ7 was elegant and I am surprised not many talked about it. But yes Kung Fu Hustle gave him international recognition as well. JTTW is nothing new but it is an inspiring effort.

      1. Visually stunning and I notice he is toning down the crudeness. Which is good. Stephen is a great comedian, one rarely seen, hence his success. I agree he has issues in his personal live, but the worst you can say is he is a jerk. Professionally, as an artiste, he is doing it his way.

      2. To me Kung Fu Hustle is a classical despite many people says is a crap

  7. journey to the west and kung fu hustle similarities:-
    1. kung fung book & Nursery Rhymes book
    2. The villages house
    3. Fighting styles..people been hit and flying
    4. Last Fight – Buddha from the sky hitting toward the ground
    5. Dancing sequel
    6. Guzheng flying weapon(KFH) and Flying Acupuncture needles (JTW)

    many more

    1. No argument on your points at all. Even the last scene of how Wukong was subdued is almost the exact same scene in Kung Fu Hustle, except Kung Fu Hustle was deeper and more meaningful. But JTTW is darn entertaining.

      1. I enjoy JTTW too maybe miss Stephen Chow works for sometime

    2. From the same Stephen Chow, I can see why they two are similar.

      But personally, I think JTTW is deeper than Kungfu Hustle. The jokes are nicely made in JTTW.

  8. Im a bit confused why in HK it was quite mediocre but in China it is a super hit. The story of Journey To The West isnt exactly new or exciting either. This news even made it into an article in my local paper the other week.

    1. I suppose because it is Stephen Chow production. His name alone guarantees viewership.

  9. so much profit.. hope he would spend the money wisely, maybe investing in organic farming esp in mainland china

  10. i saw this movie…man, it’s so boring and average at best…i’m not sure why they are making so much money. it’s almost on the same level as James Bond “skyfall” for most hyped and overrated movie.

  11. Such an overrated movie!
    Seriously it was long as and boring.
    I think I only enjoyed the last five minutes of the movie.
    Waste of my time watching it.

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