‘Hornet’s’ Big China Hopes

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Seth Rogen disappears from the overseas poster as Jay Chou takes front and center.

China could be the hero The Green Hornet is looking for. Sony certainly had Asian countries — particularly China — in mind when it tapped Jay Chou to star with Seth Rogen in the superhero actioner, which bowed Feb. 8 in China. Taiwan-born Chou is a huge recording and movie star among Mandarin-speaking audiences and is featured more prominently in Asian marketing than Rogen (European ads focus on co-star Cameron Diaz, who was all but invisible in U.S. efforts). Chou also helped Sony get the film into China, where the government imposes a strict quota on Western films. China box-office revenue hit $1.53 billion in 2010, a 64 percent jump over 2009. Those numbers were fueled by Avatar ($210 million) and Inception ($69 million), and observers say Hornet could pack a similar sting, opening on more than 3,000 screens. Sony hopes that China will provide a late boost to the film’s bottom line. Since opening in mid-January, Hornet has grossed $140 million worldwide — a good but not spectacular number.