Disney's 'Gourd' no secret in China

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BEIJING -- "The Secret of the Magic Gourd," the Walt Disney Co.'s first made-in-China feature, is the second-highest-grossing Chinese-language movie so far in 2007, earning more than 16 million yuan ($2 million) from about 750,000 tickets sold in its first two weeks.

The movie, which combines live action and animation to tell the story of a young boy who finds a magic gourd, was released on 343 prints in about 575 theaters June 29, the company said Friday.

The release was timed to coincide with the start of the summer school holiday and was followed Thursday by the launch of a Disney Web site offering branded content from "Gourd" and other Disney products for download to mobile phones (HR 7/12).

In its first two weeks here -- including two Tuesdays, when movie admissions nationwide are half-price -- each of the theaters screening "Gourd" sold about 93 tickets a day at about 21.3 yuan ($2.73) each.

Boxoffice dropped "only 16%" in Gourd's second weekend, said Jo Yan, senior vp sales, co-productions and acquisitions at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Asia Pacific, adding that boxoffice dropped "less than 1%" from one Tuesday to the next.

"Gourd" was made in cooperation with Centro Digital of Hong Kong and the Beijing-based China Film Group.

Its theme song, "One Life, One Dream," echoes the 2008 Beijing Olympics slogan "One World, One Dream," and the film features the central character taking part in a swimming competition.

The top-grossing Chinese-language movie in China this year is the Hong Kong/China co-production "Protege" starring Andy Lau. Up-to-date boxoffice figures for the thriller were not available.

"Gourd" opens in Hong Kong in August.
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