Captain America: Civil War opened to $95.8 million in China, and the film’s success can largely be attributed to its directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who previously directed The Winter Soldier and will be directing the next two-part Avengers installment. China will continue to be a big market for the directing duo since it has been revealed that they will be producing a superhero franchise specifically for the Chinese audience through their new boutique studio Anthem & Song, which is based in Beijing, China and Los Angeles, California.
In March, Joe and Anthony Russo secured financing for Anthem & Song and they will be using the studio to help develop and produce Chinese-language cinema for their growing theatrical market and will travel to China once a month. In fact, it is so large that it is expected to beat North America as the world’s biggest box office territory by 2017. The Russos plan to be in production on at least two Chinese-language films by the end of 2017.
“There’s been a lot of progress. We’ve got a project that’s very close to going. I don’t want to jinx it, but we expect to announce it soon. We’ve been here for four days and we’ve had meetings from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. It’s a very explosive market, so there’s a lot going on. We’re seeing potential production partners, writers, directors, actors — everybody. We’re really immersing ourselves into the market.”
“It is fair to say that the Russos are regarded as heroes in the global film business,” says Beijing FangJin Visual Media Culture Communication Company CEO Li Xing. “In the future, everyone will be focused on the China market. By working with the Russo’s, we want to use the best visual storytelling to make localized films that fit the Chinese market.”
FangJin is the company that Anthem & Song has partnered with to produce a Chinese superhero project which is currently titled A Hero’s Awakening (in English). The Russos have hired two directors to co-direct the film: Anthony Leonardi III, who has worked as a concept artist on The Jungle Book, Kong: Skull Island, and Game of Thrones; and Mushui Feng, who previously directed Demon Warrior which was released in China in February. According to Li, the cast will consist of Chinese actors and actresses, including the lead character and this first film is going to be the beginning of a trilogy.
Captain America: Civil War‘s $95.8 million opening was the second-biggest three-day opening for any Hollywood import in China, and Hollywood movies in general are earning more in the Chinese Market today than they ever have before. Joe Russo touched upon how the Chinese market can open the door to more international/diverse storytelling being exposed on a global scale.
“It’s nice that not everything gets eaten by Hollywood. It’s probably concerning to many studio heads. But for artists, especially guys who appreciate international voices, I find it very interesting the way that they are cultivating Chinese cinema here. It’s not built to be taken over by U.S. corporations. To work here as a [non-Chinese] artist is probably much easier than it is for a company like Warner Bros. to figure out how to get a foothold.”
Marvel Studios has made certain changes to their films in reaction to the growing Chinese market. For example, Claudia Kim’s character of Dr. Helen Cho in Avengers: Age of Ultron had a more scenes in the version of the film that played in China. This is something that is impacting all American studios.
Captain America: Civil War‘s box office results currently sit at $691,939,142 worldwide.
[Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images]