Distributors' astronomical bet on upcoming film 'Mermaid'

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 14, 2016
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It was widely reported in the Chinese media that five distributors signed a deal worth two billion yuan (US$303 million) with Stephen Chow for the upcoming blockbuster "Mermaid" set to debut during the Spring Festival.

Adam Cheng, Stephen Chow and Karen Mok are in studio to record a promotional song for the new film "Mermaid." [Photo/China.org.cn]

The Chief Entertainment Officer broke the news, saying Chow chose to sign a box office guarantee deal with five distributors, namely, China Film Group, Longteng Yidu Pictures, Union Pictures, Hehe Pictures and Enlight Media.

The deal will guarantee that Chow, as producer, will receive a huge chunk of advance income before box office grosses actually hit two billion yuan in China. If the gross eventually surpasses the two billion yuan mark, the distributors will take priority in collecting dividends from this extra income.

The box office guarantee model has existed for more than 10 years. Chow's last film "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons" also used this kind of approach. The model offers not only risk control, securing the production party's interests, but also allows distributors the chance to take priority in financing blockbusters-to-be, as well as showing their confidence in the films' future box office performance.

Take the previous blockbusters as an example; "Breakup Buddies" also had a 500 million yuan box office guarantee deal. It eventually grossed 1.167 billion yuan (US$177 million). "Continental" had a 350 million yuan box office guarantee deal, eventually grossing 650 million (US$98.67 million). However, the two billion yuan box office guarantee deal for "Mermaid," if true, is unprecedented.

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