“Asura,” China’s most expensive film to date, was pulled from cinemas after a disastrous opening weekend.
The fantasy movie, which supposedly led a trilogy, spent 750 million yuan ($112 million) in its production that lasted for six years.
Unfortunately, it only earned 49.05 million yuan ($7.3 million) on its opening weekend.
As a result, producers Alibaba Pictures, Zhenjian Film Studio and Ningxia Film Group decided to pull the movie from cinemas on Sunday and offered their “deepest apologies to viewers who did not get a chance to watch the film,” the South China Morning Post noted.
Inspired by Tibetan Buddhist mythology, “Asura” was packed with visual effects spread across 2,400 scenes for a total runtime of 141 minutes.
The film, which involved some 2,500 people from all over the world, starred 19-year-old heartthrob Wu Lei, as well as Hong Kong actors Tony Leung Ka-fai and Carina Lau.
It centers on a young shepherd named Ru Yi (Wu), the reincarnation of Asura, one of the three heads of a warrior king, who is thrust to save a dimension of the same name after a coup.
Expectations were high prior to the film’s release. Many believed it would follow the footsteps of “Game of Thrones” and “Lord of the Rings.”
“It’s a very imaginative movie. We wanted the film to raise confidence in our own culture and train more domestic talent,” Yang Hongtao, chairman of Ningxia Film Group, told China Daily.
The movie also received an endorsement from the Community Party, with officials attending its opening ceremony in Beijing.
Sadly, Chinese movie-goers were not exactly thrilled. “Asura” scored a dismal 3.1 (out of 10) on Douban, the country’s most popular review platform. It garnered 6.4 on Maoyan, a ticket provider backed by Alibaba’s rival Tencent.
Interestingly, “Asura” is not entirely over and may still be “reincarnated” sometime in the future.
“This decision was made not only because of the bad box office. We plan to make some changes to the film and release it again,” a Zhenjian Film representative told Sina News.