Resident Evil crushes Taiwan fare at LNY box office

Hollywood actioner outperforms local comedies by 4-to-1 margin

Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Hollywood post-apocalyptic saga “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” beat Chinese-language comedies by a ratio of more than four to one during Taiwan’s Lunar New Year holidays, movie distributors said Wednesday.

The actioner, the sixth and final installment in an adaptation of a video game, made more than NT$100 million (US$3.2 million) over the first five days of the Lunar New Year vacation, reports said.

Lead actress Milla Jovovich and writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson visited Taiwan last month to promote the movie. The film’s villain is played by Iain Glen of “Game of Thrones” fame.

The holiday period is traditionally also the favorite time of year to launch comedies and other lightweight movies with prominent local stars, but none of three such movies on offer this year made a major impact, according to reports.

“Hanky Panky,” with veteran comedian Chu Ko Liang as the father who tries to save his son, played by former F4 heartthrob Blue Lan, from the death penalty, was the best performer, raking in NT$24 million (US$768,000) over the holiday period, according to its distributor.

The musical “52 Hz, I Love You” by Wei Te-sheng made NT$22.8 million (US$730,000), a modest sum for the director of box office smashes “Cape No.7,” which earned more than NT$530 million (US$16.9 million) in 2008, and “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” the epic five-hour tale of indigenous resistance against Japanese occupation. The new movie, performed by upcoming talent on the local music scene, has been described as the Taiwanese equivalent of Oscar contender “La La Land.”

Wei told reporters Wednesday that many of his friends had told him they would wait to see his movie until after the holiday in order to avoid the crowds. The Lunar New Year opens with family dinners and visits to relatives, but by the end people return to the cities and crowd into shopping malls and theater multiplexes.

Wei’s new movie narrowly beat “The Village of No Return,” an action comedy starring Taiwanese stars Shu Qi and Joseph Chang, as well as Hong Kong top comedian Eric Tsang. The film earned NT$22 million (US$704,000) over the holiday period, reports said.