Shanghai Daily News
Yao Ming might be a big draw on the basketball court, but a documentary about
the NBA star hasn't proven appealing at the box office.
Seven local theaters showing "The Year of the Yao" have taken in only
80,000 yuan (US$9,877) since the movie opened in the city on July 15.
"For each of the first three screenings, there were only several people
sitting in the cinema," said Wang Tao, a manager at Stellar Cinema City.
"Although the movie is actually an excellent one and has earned good reviews
abroad, we had no choice but to reduce the number of scheduled screenings."
Managers at the Paradise Warner Cinema City said only 10 to 20 people have
taken in each screening. Neither cinema would reveal the exact number of tickets
they have sold for the movie so far.
Li Lan, a manager at Paradise Warner Cinema City attributed the movie's poor
box office to a lack of promotions, and strong summer blockbuster competitors
like "Madagascar" and "Mr and Mrs Smith."
"If Yao himself came to town to promote the movie, I would have seen it, even
though much of the content of the documentary could also be seen on the sports
news on local TV," said Xu Zhongqing, a fan of Yao.
Offering an insight into Yao's first year living in America and playing in
the NBA, the 90-minute digital film was first screened in April at 12 theaters
in the United States, where it also did poorly at the box office, despite praise
from the critics.
"In the past one week, we have taken around 500,000 yuan (US$60,240) in box
office receipts from more than 140 cinemas across the nation," said Hu Huikang,
a manager with China Digital Film Group, the movie's distributor in China.
Hu said the film has a limited audience, since only basketball fans will be
interested in seeing it.