Summer blockbuster 'Wu Kong' leaked online before premiere

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 11, 2017
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Cast and crew of the film pose for photo at premiere of "Wu Kong" held in Beijing, July 9, 2017. [Photo/] 

One of the most anticipated films of the summer season, "Wu Kong", suffered an early blow when a leaked version of the film was circulated online before its scheduled premiere last Sunday.

"Wu Kong" is a film adaptation of "Wu Kong's Biography", written by Zeng Yu under the pseudonym of Jin Hezai, which is actually an alternative and post-modern narrative of the stories of the rebellion of the freedom-seeking monkey demon Sun Wukong, the “Monkey King” from the ancient Chinese fantasy classic "Journey to the West."

The book, seemingly a hybrid of "Journey to the West" and Stephen Chow's cult classic "A Chinese Odyssey", became an instant hit and is now a cultural phenomenon, having been sold nearly 10 million copies since 2001. It is especially popular on university campuses across China.

The film adaptation is directed by Derek Kwok, who co-directed Stephen Chow's top-grossing "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons" in 2013. It stars Shawn Yue and Eddie Peng.

 A screen grab of the leaked "Wu Kong." [Photo/]

However, just one day before the scheduled premiere, an early rough cut of the film, running for one hour 58 minutes, was leaked online. Without ending credits and visual effects, the rough version spread wildly on the pirate websites and social networks and apps.

The film's producers are investigating the leak, and discussing a possible solution; however, they have not yet openly responded to the disaster, according to sources.

There is a precedent for the incident, as an "incomplete and early version" of the working print for "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" found its way onto the internet and hundreds of thousands of downloads occurred before 20th Century Fox could stop it in 2009.

The film studio asked FBI to investigate the incident that caused the studio to lose an estimated US$50 million-plus in box office revenues.

"Wu Kong" probably was stolen in the post-production phase and was leaked at this particular time to damage its theater release, the sources said. The film will open in China on July 13 and hit 55 cities in 24 foreign countries on the same day.

The premiere ceremony was held as scheduled on Sunday in Beijing with director Derek Kwok, writer Jin Hezai and actors Shawn Yue, Eddie Peng, Ni Ni, Zheng Shuang, Qiao Shan, Yang Di, and Yu Feihong attending.

Jin Hezai wrote the screen script himself for the film to maintain its originality. He said that "Wu Kong's Biography" was very hard for a film adaptation and audiences would likely get confused by the convoluted plots, so he focused on the Monkey's rebellion against Heaven, and cut the other plot lines about the Monkey King's master Monk Tang Xuanzang, maybe saving it for future sequels if this one succeeds.

Director Derek Kwok, who spent two years on the project, said he loved the original novel.

"Many dialogues in the film feel like they are coming from my heart," he said at the premiere, adding that he paid attention to every frame of the film and wanted the visual effects to be stunning and beautiful; at the same time, he wanted to capture the spirit of Wu Kong from the novel.

"Wu Kong never thinks he will lose. He will always get up again even after he falls. This is the spirit a young man should have when he deals with the world," he said.

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