Asian films share year-end boom

'Idiots,' 'Bodyguards' pull in holiday bucks

HONG KONG -- It is not just "Avatar" and "2012" that have set records in Asia over the Christmas period. Asian films also shared the boxoffice booty.
In India, Reliance Big Pictures "3 Idiots" collected more than 1 billion rupees ($21.3 million) in its first four days of release. The Aamir Khan-starring picture was put out on a record-breaking 1,760 screens in India and a further 366 screens abroad. The gross takes it past the milestones set by "Ghajini" in the same release slot last year.

The picture, based on the novel "Five Point Someone" by Chetan Bhagat, takes a wry look at India's education system as it tracks the misfortunes of a trio of friends in engineering college. It was produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and directed by Raj Kumar Hirani,

While the November-released "2012" was claiming the overall boxoffice crown in China, locally-made action thriller “Bodyguards and Assassins” amassed RMB208 ($30.4 million) since its Dec. 18 release.

The film is the first to emerge from the Cinema Popular stable established earlier this year by Peter Chan Ho-sun and Huang Jianxin, and was produced by Chan and directed by Teddy Chen. Adding in figures from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan, where it opened on Christmas Eve, the regional cumulative total has passed $35 million. Other Asian territories to open it soon include Thailand (Jan. 7), where it is handled by United Home Entertainment and UIP, and Korea where it will be released by CJ Entertainment on Jan. 21.

At a ceremony Tuesday, Cinema Popular estimated that the gross will eventually hit $44 million in China alone.