China's 'Point Break' World Premiere Marks Shifting Release Patterns

DMG Entertainment
'Point Break' star Luke Bracey and DMG co-founder Wu Bing.

No major Hollywood-backed film has ever opened in China so far in advance of the domestic U.S. market.

In the latest demonstration of the eastward-shifting center of gravity in the global movie industry, Point Break received its world premiere in Beijing on Tuesday night, more than three weeks ahead of its planned North American release on Christmas Day.

Co-produced by Alcon Entertainment and China's DMG Entertainment, the $120 million-budgeted remake of Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 cult classic opens wide in China on Thursday, making it the last Hollywood import to squeak into the closely regulated and rapidly expanding Chinese market for 2015.

No major Hollywood-backed film has ever opened in China so far in advance of the domestic U.S. market. Iron Man 3, also co-produced by DMG and Disney, opened in China two days ahead of its Stateside rollout in 2013, while Penguins Of Madagascar debuted 12 days earlier there in 2014. 

China is expected to surpass North America to become the world's largest market for movies within two to three years.

From left: Chinese comedian Chen Handian, Luke Bracey, DMG global CEO Dan Mintz and DMG Yinji chairperson Wu Bing. 

Australian actor Luke Bracey, the new Johnny Utah (played by Keanu Reeves in the original), joined executives from DMG for the splashy red-carpet launch in Beijing on Tuesday night. DMG built a special stage recreating some of the extreme stunts and locations featured in the movie, which was directed by Ericson Core. Bracey greeted local fans with a bevy of nihaos (hellos) before jumping on a motorcycle alongside Wu Bing, DMG co-founder and chairperson of the studio's China operations.

"People will be thrilled as they experience big-wave surfing, wingsuit flying, sheer-face snowboarding and free rock climbing on the big screen wrapped in an intense story about loyalty, duty and betrayal,” said DMG's global CEO and pitchman-in-chief Dan Mintz.

Point Break co-stars Edgar Ramirez in Patrick Swazye's previous role of Bodhi. In the remake, FBI agent Utah infiltrates a cunning team of thrill-seeking elite athletes, led by the charismatic Bodhi. The athletes are suspected of carrying out a spate of crimes in extremely unusual ways, involving big-wave surfing, wingsuit flying, sheer-face snowboarding, free rock climbing, and high-speed motorcycling, among other methods of escape. Going deep undercover, and with his life in imminent danger, Utah strives to prove they are the architects of the string of inconceivable crimes.

This week's release date will give Point Break a relatively uncontested run at Chinese cinemas until would-be local blockbuster The Ghouls, starring A-listers Shu Qi and Angelababy, opens on Dec. 18. The Martian opened in China on Nov. 25 and Paramount's The SpongeBob Movie premieres across the country today. Otherwise, Point Break will be the only Hollywood effects-heavy fare in the market for the remainder of the month.

Warner Bros. is handling Point Break's Christmas Day release in North America, the U.K., Russia, Japan and Latin America. Lionsgate is handling the film in the rest of the world for Alcon. Outside China, Point Break will face stiffer competition, as it will go head-to-head with J.J. Abram's Star Wars: The Force Awakens juggernaut, which is set to open Dec. 18 in North America and much of the world (in China, the Force won't awaken until Jan. 9).