Low-budget local rom-com takes more than $30m in its first week to leave Hollywood alternatives trailing in its wake

Perfect World Pictures’ romantic comedy Love Is Not Blind sweeps mainland China box office this week, taking in more than $30 million over its first week of release.  

Having opened on November 8th, 2011, the small-budgeted film claimed the number top spot at the Chinese box office eight days in a row, surprisingly leaving behind three competitors from Hollywood studios: Immortals, Real Steel and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Immortals was released on a day-and-date basis in China on Nov 11 and originally the film’s China distributor Huaxia Film Distribution expected the film to perform No.1 during the weekend. The film took in $5.31m, while Real Steel took in $9.12m. The box office take of all three Hollywood films was around $19.3m, less than the opening weekend gross of Love Is Not Blind, which was made with a budget of $1.5m.

The film joins Let the Bullets Fly, Aftershock and If You Are The One2, as the fourth Chinese film to surpass $30m in its first week of release.

Directed by Teng Huatao (The Matrimony, 2007), the film stars Wen Zhang (Ocean Heaven, 2009) and new actress Bai Baihe. The story is based on an adaptation of author Bao Jingjing’s novel, which was a 2009 best-seller in China, selling more than 110,000 copies, generally seen as the Chinese version of Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Love Is Not Blind became an instant pop culture phenomenon, creating hype on microblogging site Sina Weibo. Market analysts said the film has reinvigorated the Chinese audience appetite for contemporary home grown films: “The success of the film, with it attracting more viewers than Hollywood films, shows that our understanding of the (Chinese) market is still not enough,” said box office analyst Liu Jia. “The main audience of the film are young people who normally would see local films online, and then only go to the movie theaters for Hollywood blockbusters. Now the film has made them all go to the cinemas,” she said.

Love Is Not Blind comes on the heels of Perfect World Pictures’ recently released The Piano in a Factory, which garnered multiple awards in China, Tokyo International Film Festival and the Miami International Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize), as well as nominations in seven major categories of the Golden Horse Award in Taiwan.

Perfect World Pictures is an affiliated company of online game operator Perfect World.  The company’s first production is Zhang Ziyi starring Sophie’s Revenge (2009), co-producing with Korean CJ Entertainment, which was the highest grossing Chinese romantic comedy in history at the time.   It is understood that the company plans to produce more international and China-US co-productions in the coming year.