It was a very strange night last Friday at Taipei's cinemas. A sea of people were crammed in Ximending, Warner Village and Showtime Cinemas to see Kung Fu Hustle (功夫). Tickets for all screenings that night had been booked or were sold out. The huge crowd made Warner Village and Showtime Cinema show extra screenings until 3am.
A cinema owner said it had been a long time since they had stayed up so late for a film. Even more unusual was that was for a Chinese-language film.
Stephen Chow's (
Kung Fu Hustle was the biggest dark horse movie this year. Before the film opened, the best-selling film in Taiwan this year had been the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow. Tomorrow, which grossed NT$180 million in Taiwan and set a first-day box-office record of NT$10 million. But this record was broken last Friday night by Kung Fu Hustle, with the crowds of people on Friday night causing a box office take of NT$15 million.
Kung Fu Hustle will not only beat Hollywood films and top the box office chart for 2004, but it has another record to break -- namely, to overtake the record of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (
The 2004 box office in Taiwan has slightly improved from a SARS-stricken 2003. The second best-selling foreign film was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, grossing NT$134 million. Spiderman 2 stands at third, taking NT$132 million. And the fourth and fifth place was a battle between The Last Samurai and The Incredibles. The former took NT$102 million and the latter now has taken NT$95 million and is still on general release.
Such a ranking is not so different from that of the US chart, except for The Last Samurai, which fell out of the top 10 in the US domestic chart but stayed high in Taiwan. Taiwanese audiences are loyal to Tom Cruise.
As for Chinese-language films, Kung Fu Hustle took top place, easily, and pushed Zhang Yi-mou's (
Wang Kar Wai's (
The most surprising film was Taiwanese documentary Gift of Life (