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Thread: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

  1. #16
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    Milking Donnie...

    ...I mean Chirrut. He's on a roll.

    We all saw this one coming. Good for Donnie!

    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    Good article on the global play behind this film

    Hollywood Banks on Foreign Moviegoers as U.S. Ticket Sales Stall
    Brent Lang
    Senior Film and Media Editor
    @BrentALang


    COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
    DECEMBER 14, 2016 | 09:00AM PT

    Vin Diesel’s passport is getting a workout these days.

    This story first appeared in the December 14, 2016 issue of Variety.

    The action star was in Brazil last month to hawk “XXX: Return of Xander Cage” at the country’s edition of Comic-Con. Diesel, recognized the world over for his role in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, popped up at a surprise screening of the “Xander Cage” sequel, and drew crowds as he drove back to his hotel. At one point, he stopped the car to play soccer with locals.

    “Fans were screaming,” recalls Nic Crawley, head of international marketing and distribution for Paramount. “It was like the Beatles had come to town.”

    The next two months will bring Diesel and company to such far-flung locales as Mumbai, where the film, which features Indian superstar Deepika Padukone in a lead role, will have its world premiere. It’s part of an effort to drive turnout for a movie that seems to have been greenlit primarily for its overseas appeal. The picture is loaded with the kind of action set pieces that cross every language barrier, and it has a multi-ethnic cast that includes Kris Wu, Tony Jaa, and Ruby Rose, major stars in China, Thailand, and Australia, respectively.

    “It’s a glorious international movie because of the diverse cast,” Crawley says.

    How things have changed. Twenty years ago, foreign markets were something of an afterthought. They could be counted on to pad the grosses of a few select films, particularly those with a Tom Cruise or a Will Smith above the title. Today, overseas territories routinely account for more than 60% of a major release’s total gross.

    On paper, the domestic box office achieved record revenue in 2015 and could set a new high-water mark this year. When inflation is taken into account, however, sales have been essentially flat and attendance has failed to come close to matching the record of 1.57 billion set in 2002.

    Duncan Clark, president of distribution for Universal Pictures International, says that the American market is still the gold standard when it comes to exhibition technology and in ratio of screens. He adds however, that “the population base, by definition, means that this international world is going to deliver bigger numbers than you’ve witnessed for any of the titles that go out on a broad basis.”

    With the domestic business maturing, studios have looked overseas, particularly to Asia and Latin America, to find markets with burgeoning middle classes and a thirst for pop culture. China, for instance, saw ticket sales increase more than 20% through the first half of the year (actually a sizable decline from the 48% growth it experienced in 2015), and movie theater construction is continuing at a feverish pace. Opportunities abroad are leading several studios to change the types of films that they’re making, or to expand the number of films they release that are aimed at foreign audiences in their own language.

    That has led to some shakeups and shifts at major studios. Under newly minted studio chief Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures is building up its local-language division and putting more of an emphasis on star-driven, special-effects-oriented productions such as “Passengers” and “Jumanji” that are designed to appeal to overseas crowds. In the past, Sony tended to be the home of Adam Sandler comedies and adult dramas that had a limited appeal outside of the U.S. In a signal of this shift, Rothman tapped Sanford Panitch to serve as president of Columbia Pictures. The two men worked together at Fox, where Panitch developed the studio’s local-language productions.

    “You have to have a global revenue perspective,” says Panitch. “No studio should greenlight a big movie based solely on how it will perform in the U.S.”

    At Sony, Panitch has also reinvigorated the company’s slate of films produced by and for foreign audiences. In less than two years, the studio has built up its local divisions in 10 countries, including new arms in Turkey, China, and Russia.

    “You have to empower your local team,” notes Panitch. “To sit in an office in West L.A. and think we know what will work for a Hindi-speaking audience in Mumbai is the height of imperial arrogance.”

    Sony’s not alone in making changes to its foreign-distribution strategy. Universal, for instance, recently placed Universal Pictures Intl. Productions under the banner of Focus Features, its specialty-film arm. The combined divisions have been tasked with instituting a more global approach to the movies they make. That has led the companies to move opportunistically, picking up foreign rights to the likes of “American Honey,” a buzzy Cannes hit; Spanish distribution for Oscar hopeful “La La Land”; and worldwide rights to a drama about the fashion industry from Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson.

    Even as studios seek to offer films that are more regionally specific, there’s a growing sense that social media and the internet are breaking down barriers and allowing pictures to reach audiences in far-flung parts of the globe. Studios are also dealing with the same issues overseas that they are on these shores — namely, an ever-expanding array of entertainment options.

    “People have more choices than ever before, and therein lies the challenge,” says Tomas Jegeus, president of Fox Intl. Productions. “People are consuming so much audiovisual content, from YouTube videos to Vines, that there’s only so much time left to commit to getting in the car and going to the theater.”

    The audience is also graying, Jegeus notes, although he attributes that more to a demographic shift than a sign of changing tastes.

    “There’s an aging-up of the population when you look around the world,” he says. “The average family size is shrinking, even in Catholic countries, so with fewer kids being born, it’s a natural progression that the audience is getting older.”

    Foreign audiences are getting pickier when it comes to what they’re willing to see. This summer, many sequels sputtered at the domestic marketplace, with follow-ups from “Star Trek Beyond” to “X-Men: Apocalypse” failing to match the grosses of previous entries in their series. Slapping a roman numeral on a film used to be enough to guarantee healthy returns overseas, but the same slackening appears to be taking place in foreign markets.

    “At the end of the day, it’s about the films themselves,” says Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, president of international distribution and growth initiatives at Warner Bros. “There’s a bit of franchise fatigue, so there has to be more reimagining of stories, with sequels that present unique and different elements.”

    She points to “The Conjuring 2,” one of the rare sequels this year for which foreign box office grew from installment to installment, as an example of a follow-up that got it right. The second film kept the original picture’s team of paranormal investigators, but transported them across the Pond to England to check into a totally different haunted house.

    For many, the gold standard remains Disney. The studio controls major brands such as Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar, which have deep and passionate fan bases around the world. That puts them squarely in the zeitgeist at a time when superhero films and animated features dominate the list of the most popular global releases. It also means the studio doesn’t need to be a major player in the local-language game.

    “Having films that work locally takes many, many different forms, and our approach has been to tell broad stories that are universally compelling and relevant,” says Dave Hollis, Disney’s global distribution head.

    As for Paramount, the studio is looking beyond “Xander Cage” to brush the dust off characters and franchises it believes will resonate as strongly in India and China as they do in the Heartland. That has often meant travelling far from home for some projects: The studio recently hosted a trailer launch in Tokyo tied to “Ghost in the Shell,” an adaptation of a popular Japanese manga, and it’s filling out the casts of upcoming blockbuster hopefuls like “Transformers: The Last Knight” and “Baywatch” with actors like Anthony Hopkins and Priyanka Chopra, who appeal to overseas consumers. In the case of “Baywatch,” Chopra, Dwayne Johnson, and Zac Efron have been convinced to break out their swim suits in large part because the original television show was so widely broadcast.

    “In its day, it was the most-watched TV series in the entire world,” says Crawley. “Wherever you lived outside of California, everybody dreamed of running up and down those beaches.”

    And having an international star like Chopra around to do some of that running won’t hurt.
    You know, I'm a little disappointed that we don't have threads for xXx (2002) and xXx: State of the Union (2005). I'll write reviews up for those here next week perhaps. I rewatched them a few months ago in anticipation of this.
    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    xXx (2002)

    In preparation for next year's installment, I rewatched the original, because I couldn't remember a thing about it. Turns out there wasn't that much to remember. xXx is an outrageously gratuitous action film, dumb as a box of rocks, but there's a lot of explosions - real explosions - and only a minimal amount of CGI as it was 2002. The stunts are ridiculous. Xander Cage is ridiculous. It's ridiculously dumb. But so is a lot of stuff I watch so what am I saying here? It's interesting to juxtapose this franchise with Vin's F&F franchise because it's kind of the same idea - rogue adrenaline junkies are the only people capable of taking down some random international gang of thieves. Sam Jackson is particularly amusing because his Eugene Gibbons is basically the same as Nick Fury in his Marvel flicks, only instead of having an eye-patch, he has some odd facial scar (and a far far superior first name). Also amusing was that Marton Csokas played the main villain. I met Csokas briefly at the Into the Badlands premiere. But I confess, I was more interested in the Into the Badlands starlets because they all play hot women fighters and I have a soft spot for them.

    I should mention that I'm not a huge fan of VD. He's got a great voice, but he always looks kind of like a pale skinny Shrek to me. Skinny isn't quite the right word because he's hecka yoked, but his face (butter face?), that's the Shrekkish part.

    Anyway, the film sorely needed a sword fight.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #19
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    xXx: State of the Union (2005)

    Man, that was a dumb sequel. But with Ice Cube as the new 3x, it was decidedly blacker. Still a lot of good explosions but more CGI so it starts to go sour for me.

    Hardly the same franchise except for Eugene. Good ol Eugene.

    Maybe the next one will be more Asian to cater to China. It'll surely be more CGI.

    Like with Rogue One, all my hopes are pinned to Donnie.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #20
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    Tony interview

    Action hero
    Tony Jaa has a new Hollywood hit

    8 Jan 2017 at 10:05
    WRITER: SUWITCHA CHAIYONG



    With his ground-breaking moves and daredevil stunts, Tony Jaa made viewers’ jaws drop in the 2003 action blockbuster Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. In his latest role, the 40-year-old stunt legend worked with Hollywood star Vin Diesel and Chinese martial artist Donnie Yen in the spectacular spy thriller xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

    In his latest role, the 40-year-old stunt legend worked with Hollywood star Vin Diesel and Chinese martial artist Donnie Yen in the spectacular spy thriller xXx: Return of Xander Cage. For this extreme action movie, Tony Jaa adopted an extreme new look for his character Talon, by dying his hair a striking blond. The film is an action extravaganza that is sure to leave audiences breathless.

    Before the movie’s release on January 17, S Weekly met up with Tony Jaa at G2D studio where the friendly star told us all about the upcoming movie.

    S Weekly: Can you tell us about your character Talon?

    Tony Jaa: I think he’s something that viewers haven’t seen before. He’s bold and skilful. This is the first time I have tattoos and dyed hair, so I look really cool. And when I showed my dance moves to the director, he liked them and told me to put them in the movie.



    S Weekly: Do you like to dance?

    Tony Jaa: Yes, I particularly like b-boy and hip-hop dancing. I think hip-hop music really suits the movements of Thai boxing.

    S Weekly: Did Vin Diesel give you any advice?

    Tony Jaa: He told me to really try and develop my character. I learnt that he liked to turn on music and move along with it to help him get into character naturally. So I decided to build up my emotions with music. If I wanted to be serious, I listened to rock music. If I had to be sad, I played Mozart.

    S Weekly: What was it like working with the stunt team?

    Tony Jaa: They were all familiar with my background, so they knew what I was capable of. Before filming, we choreographed my moves. But on set, I could suggest what would make the scenes look better and they sometimes accepted my ideas.

    S Weekly: Among the cast, who were you closest to?

    Tony Jaa: I hung out with Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen and Kris Wu. Vin was hilarious. Whenever he met me, he hugged me. He said I was vigorous and he needed energy. He made me feel relaxed on set.



    S Weekly: Which of your films are you most proud of?

    Tony Jaa: I’m really proud of Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior because it was my big break. It took me years to get there and I had to work so hard for it. I’m also proud of Furious 7 because of the great friendships I developed with the other cast members. And in XXX: Return of Xander Cage, I’m proud that I’m a Thai actor representing my country to an international audience.

    S Weekly: How did you develop your incredible stunt skills?

    Tony Jaa: I used to practice Thai boxing for eight hours a day. I watched a lot of action movies which helped me to understand other actors and develop my own style.

    S Weekly: What kind of character would you like to play in the future?

    Tony Jaa: I enjoy watching comedies, especially the ones by Jackie Chan and Charlie Chaplin. The characters I usually play are fierce, but I like to joke around as well. So, I’d love to be in an action comedy. I want to make people feel excited and happy.

    S Weekly: Did you go sightseeing while filming in Canada?

    Tony Jaa: We mostly just went to lots of different restaurants such as Italian, Indian, Chinese and Thai. The owners of the Thai restaurant were very kind and gave me a warm welcome. They took me to see Niagara Falls and to a basketball match as well.

    S Weekly: What’s your advice for people who look up to you?

    Tony Jaa: You must discover your strengths and set clear goals. It isn’t easy to become a success. Work hard but try to make it fun and don’t give up. You must have faith and courage.



    "Do you like to dance?" What an odd question.
    Gene Ching
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  6. #21
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    xXx to PRC

    I saw La La Land last night and loved it. I love musicals. The single take choreography was superb.

    'La La Land' Scores Awards-Season Release in China
    11:28 PM PST 1/10/2017 by Patrick Brzeski


    Lionsgate/Screenshot
    'La La Land'

    'Arrival,' 'xXx' and 'Sing' also have landed upcoming release dates in China, the world's No. 2 film market.
    La La Land is on a roll.

    After winning a record seven awards at the Golden Globes on Sunday, Damien Chazelle’s modern musical just received some more good news — this time from China, the world's second-largest film market.

    The Lionsgate movie has gotten the official green light for local distribution from China's film regulators, according to multiple local media reports.

    No release date has yet been announced, but a source with knowledge of the decision at state-backed distributor China Film Group tells THR the plan is to open La La Land on Valentine's Day — Tuesday, Feb. 14.

    Chinese-language posters and trailers for the film were put out earlier this week. The film's title has been translated into Chinese as "爱乐之城" or Aiyue Zhicheng, roughly meaning "Music Lovers' City."

    China Film Co. will distribute the film, with Shanghai-based Baian Film and Joy Pictures handling marketing, say local reports. Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling will visit China in late January to promote the movie. Emma Stone may not be able to attend, due to a scheduling conflict.

    La La Land will be Gosling's first film released in China, but Stone is a familiar face to moviegoers there, thanks to the Amazing Spider-Man franchise.

    Other Hollywood titles recently cleared for release in China include Amy Adams' sci-fi Arrival on Jan. 20, Vin Diesel's xXx: Return of Xander Cage and video game adaptation Assassin's Creed on Feb. 10, and Universal's animated musical Sing on Feb. 17.

    Chinese New Year, the country's largest holiday period, runs Jan. 27-Feb. 2 this year — between the release of Arrival and xXx — during which time a rush of high-profile local movies will be released, including the Stephen Chow-produced Journey to the West: Demon Chapter on Jan. 28. Chow's The Mermaid set an all-time box-office record after its release during Chinese New Year in 2016, earning $528 million.

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story currently is topping the Chinese box office, with $37 million after five days. Sony's Passengers and Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings open in the country on Friday.
    Assassin's Creed

    Journey to the West: Demon Chapter


    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Kubo and the Two Strings
    Gene Ching
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  7. #22
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    Stay tuned for tomorrow...

    ...this opens next week but we are lining up a special exclusive treat for tomorrow.

    Gene Ching
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  8. #23
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    Exclusive xXx: Return of Xander Cage - Tony Jaa Featurette



    Gene Ching
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  9. #24
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    Diesel does Bollywood?

    Vin Diesel eyes Bollywood: I’d do anything with Deepika Padukone in it!
    HOLLYWOOD Updated: Jan 16, 2017 14:10 IST
    IANS


    Hollywood actor Vin Diesel with actor Deepika Padukone during a press conference. (PTI)

    Vin Diesel feels Bollywood cinema is all about making magic, and says he is willing to cross over to the Indian film industry with a project that stars Deepika Padukone.

    Diesel got a better understanding about the world of Bollywood after working with Deepika in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

    “Just that the people who make these movies want to make magic like everybody else. I am not the type of person who finds differences in things; I like to find similarities in things,” hollywoodreporter.com quoted Diesel as saying.

    When asked if given the chance, what kind of a role he would like to do in Bollywood, he said: “I’d do anything with Deepika Padukone in it!”

    The actor visited India last week for the premiere of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

    The movie, a new instalment in the xXx series after the 2002 film xXx and 2005’s xXx: State of the Union, released in India on January 14, before anywhere else in the world. Directed by DJ Caruso, the film also stars Vin Diesel, Ruby Rose, Samuel L Jackson, Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa.
    I feel him. I'd do anything with Deepike in it too.
    Gene Ching
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  10. #25
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    Donnie Yen Exclusive Interview - xXx: Return of Xander Cage

    Gene Ching
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  11. #26
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    China release

    I'm going to the screener tonight. This article confirms what I already suspected and included in my notes for our official review coming this Friday.

    China’s Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group Join Paramount on ‘XXX: Return of Xander Cage’
    High-octane thriller stars Vin Diesel and Chinese A-listers Donnie Yen and Kris Wu
    Matt Pressberg | January 17, 2017 @ 10:57 AM


    Paramount

    Vin Diesel‘s long-awaited sequel, “xXx: Return of Xander Cage,” recently landed a China release date, and on Tuesday, the studio enlisted two local partners to help make it a big hit in the Middle Kingdom — and beyond.

    Paramount Pictures has brought on a joint venture between China’s Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group as investors and China marketing partners on “xXx,” which it produced with Revolution Studios. The relationship isn’t a new one: Huahua and Shanghai have also invested in Paramount’s “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” and Huahua has also been a partner in other Paramount titles including “Star Trek Beyond” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the first Hollywood film to break $300 million at the Chinese box office.

    The latest “xXx” film seems positioned to do well in China, as it stars Vin Diesel from the mega-popular “Fast and Furious” — “Furious 7” is currently the all-time highest grossing foreign film in China with $391 million — as well as Samuel L. Jackson, Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev and Chinese stars Donnie Yen and Kris Wu.

    “We are pleased to collaborate once again with Huahua Media and the Shanghai Film Group,” Megan Colligan, Paramount Pictures’ president of worldwide distribution and marketing, said in a statement. “‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is a film that delivers incredible action and great entertainment and we anticipate a strong showing for the film in China, where our stars Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Kris Wu and Nina Dobrev have such dedicated fan bases.”

    “Huahua’s co-investment in ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ marks the second time our company has had the opportunity to partner with Shanghai Film Group as a financer and marketing provider for a Paramount title,” Huahua CEO Kefei Wang said in the statement. “We are poised to launch a multi-market campaign to drive a lucrative opening for the popular film series in China.”


    “America is a developed market and the Chinese market is still developing,” Ren Zhonglun, president of Shanghai Film Group, said in the statement. “If there’s a company or an alliance of companies that can connect the two, such as Paramount Pictures and Huahua Media, it creates a significant collaboration that benefits both markets. This is why we’ve been communicating with American companies and keeping a close relationship with the executives of those companies.”

    The film was produced Vin Diesel, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Joe Roth and Samantha Vincent, written by F. Scott Frazier, Chad St. John and Rich Wilkes, and directed by D.J. Caruso.
    Gene Ching
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  12. #27
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    Our latest ezine offering

    Gene Ching
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    Nina Dobrev takes one for the team

    She was good in xXx.

    Nina Dobrev turned to cupping therapy to get rid of cold
    PUBLISHED 19/01/2017


    Nina Dobrev
    The actress has been travelling the world promoting her new film xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

    Actress Nina Dobrev underwent cupping therapy to help her beat a cold when she fell ill while promoting her new movie xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

    The former The Vampire Diaries actress, who stars alongside Vin Diesel and Ruby Rose in the action film, has been travelling all over the world in recent weeks and her crazy schedule left her battling a nasty cold.

    "I've been in London, Mexico City, Brazil, kind of all over the place," she told Live with Kelly on Wednesday (18Jan17). "(It's) exhausting and fun. You throw the birthday in there last week. It's kind of just been no rest for the weary. When you're travelling to so many different places on planes... I got sick."

    Desperate to get healthy as quickly as possible, Nina tried a different method to beat the blues.

    "Sometimes they have a set doctor come and I tried Eastern medicine, Asian medicine as well," she said. "I wanted to get acupuncture and all these different types of different things because I was trying to get better and the woman after the acupuncture said, 'Do you want to try cupping?' I had no idea what that was, so I said, 'Yes, whatever it takes to get rid of this cold. Please just do it'.

    "She's like, 'OK, you don't have anything coming up?' And I was thinking next two or three hours: 'No I'll go home and go to bed'. I didn't realise she meant the next two to three weeks... It sucks all the toxins out, (but) I didn't realise she meant, 'Are you doing anything for the next two to three weeks, because you might look like you got attacked by an octopus'."
    Doesn't count unless we see the suction cup bruises. It's not like she's timid about showing off her scars.
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  14. #29
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    Go Donnie!

    After Going 'Rogue,' Donnie Yen Is Ready for His 'Cage' Match
    Posted January 20, 2017 by Scott Huver


    FilmMagic

    The Force remains with "Rogue One's" Donnie Yen.
    Already renowned both in Hong Kong and Hollywood as a mind-boggling martial artist, fight choreographer, and filmmaker, Yen has also recently been snapping audiences' heads back with his increasingly impressive acting chops, first as the immensely charming blind Force adherent Chirrut Imwe in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," and now in "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" as the maybe bad / maybe noble Xiang, who finds himself contending with Vin Diesel's swaggering spy in pursuit of a powerful weapon known as Pandora's Box.
    Yen joined Moviefone for a fast-paced look at how he adapts his stunt techniques film by film, and how his current star turn is hitting him.

    Moviefone: Let's start with the stunts: in a movie like "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" where the action is so up close and the editing is so fast-paced, does that affect how you pull off the stunts or how you stage the stunts?

    Donnie Yen: No, because I adapt myself to different directors or how they place the cameras -- because myself, I direct films and I'm an action director, including these kinds of action sequences for many, many, too many of my movies in the last few decades. So for me, I'm very comfortable of a different style of shooting.
    Like, I see the camera way over here, my natural instinct will be adapting to that camera angle. For instance, in "xXx" when I walked onto the set, and usually what I'll do is -- in a polite way or in a professional way -- I would ask the director how would you like to, first of all, I study his style before. I watch his films and get a sense. Working with D.J. Caruso, or if I'm fortunate to work with Martin Scorsese, for example, or Steven Spielberg, what I would do is I would have certain images in my head, "OK, this is his style." Usually my guesses are pretty on point.
    So, for instance, D.J. likes to shoot it a certain way, and I choreograph my movements, or I collaborate with their choreographer, and then make it, at the end of the day, make it into my own characteristic. What you see is the process of making an adaptation and an adjustment.

    Coming in so prepared but also ready to adapt, what was the fun surprise for you in the making of the film?

    It's a fun surprise every single scene, every movie, because usually you don't do the same movie all the time. You have different scenarios, you're dealing with different actors, or a different climax, right? It changes the whole flavor, do you know what I'm saying? So for me, every day walking to the set is refreshing.
    I like that refreshment because it actually inspires me to deliver beyond being just, "I've done it before." Because, usually, the human body gets lazy. If you've done it so many times you just kind of, uh, you know. You don't have any drive behind it. But with approaching different scenes, it gives you that curiosity and carries that energy.
    The adrenaline comes up and it's a good thing, especially for physical performance because you need that high energy. For one, it decreases the chance of getting hurt because your body is a pump. Secondly, again, it inspires you to be creative, and the mind is going 90 miles per hour, and so is the body. Usually good things happen in front of the camera that way.

    In addition to your usual exemplary stunt and fight work, you've been getting these great opportunities to act in bigger, more in-depth, more prominent roles -- richer characters that you're being able to create.

    Oh, thank God! It's a long time coming. For the longest time. I've done some Hollywood films back in the early '90s, the early 2000s -- more than a decade, though, in "Blade II" and "Shanghai Knights." Unfortunately, I never was given the platform to be a true artist, to be a true actor. We're not going to get into that, right? The world is smaller now and I think I've done enough films to build my credentials where my words mean more, my suggestions mean more, and it's a lot easier today.

    As an actor, what was the fun challenge in this character, Xiang? Because you have this cool, shifting dynamic opposite Vin.

    I believe I have a lot of -- how would I say it? I have understanding of a different way of acting, at least in action films. Again, unfortunately, what kind of created and built my credentials for the last ten years kind of limited myself from having the producers to let me try something else.
    For example, I made "Ip Man," and "Ip Man" was so popular, I made three of them. When you make a character so popular you are typecast -- "Oh, he's the Ip Man," let alone that I'm Chinese. Especially in American movies, when they cast the Chinese person, it's like kung fu master or whatever, right? So I was looking for the vehicle. I was always looking for a vehicle to show the other side of me.
    When they came to me with this, I said, "This is the perfect opportunity, and more. I made my suggestion to D.J. and Vin and all the producers. I said, listen, you can have a lot of fun, and you can show that this Chinese actor is very diverse and able to carry this type of personality. So some of the stuff I added, like the little bit of that swagger, that dangerous, you've never seen a Chinese actor play these type of roles. So it's great.

    Tell me about the enthusiastic response to your role in "Rogue One." Chirrut Imwe became instantly beloved, instantly quotable, from the moment the fans first met him.

    I guess so, but I never thought it would happen! As always, I always try to do my best as an actor in any films, and in "Rogue One" I was just doing my job and trying to do the best I can, and by adjusting this character, changing the character, shaping the character, but never had I expected the response that I'm getting. It's a little bit overwhelming!

    "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" is in theaters now.
    So what's next for Donnie?
    Chasing The Dragon I think...
    Iceman 2 seems to have been put on 'ice'.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #30
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    xiangXIANGxiang

    Like I've been saying "After over a decade of dormancy, Diesel is relaunching the xXx franchise in hopes of gaining global respect with more ridiculous action, or at least a decent box office return. And that means China. China is the second largest film market. The first thing you see at the start of xXx: Return of Xander Cage are the logos for China’s Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group." xXx: Return of Xander Cage: Donnie, Tony, Bisping and Deepika by Gene Ching

    Vin Diesel Surprise: ‘xXx’ Sequel Could Be China’s Biggest Hollywood Hit This Year
    Franchise superstar competes with his own all-time China box office record set by “Furious 7” in 2015
    Matt Pressberg | February 1, 2017 @ 4:30 PM


    Paramount

    Paramount’s action thriller “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” arrives in China on Feb. 10, right after the Lunar New Year. And with a Hollywood headliner that has a massive Chinese fanbase, a couple local A-listers and insane stunts that should be catnip to the country’s action-loving audience, the studio is positioning the film to make a loud entrance in the Year of the Rooster.

    The film, which stars Vin Diesel, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose, Deepika Padukone and Chinese superstars Donnie Yen and Kris Wu, certainly has the ingredients to be one of the biggest Hollywood movies to ever play in China. That would put “xXx” up against Paramount’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” which reeled in a then-record $320 million at the Chinese box office when it debuted in 2014, and Diesel’s “Furious 7,” which raced to $391 million in the Middle Kingdom and remains an all-time record for an imported film.

    Nic Crawley, the president of international marketing and distribution at Paramount, didn’t demur when asked whether “xXx” has a chance to hit those lofty numbers.

    “This has China written all over it,” Crawley told TheWrap.

    And there are a bunch of factors pointing in that direction, including a favorable release date, which is granted at the whims of China’s state censors. “xXx” hits theaters right after China’s annual New Year blackout, during which only homegrown films are permitted, with an audience likely hungry for something different.

    “We have high hopes that they saw in this movie a movie that can do really well there,” Crawley said. “I feel they treated us so kindly by giving us that date.”

    Crawley said Paramount is trying to take advantage of the flurry of activity in the country around the holiday, particularly the hundreds of millions of people who are expected to travel around China.

    “We’re trying to make sure we’re in train stations and airports,” Crawley said. “We have digital and online content. Also, and most important to me: Let’s make sure our trailer is up with many of these great local movies and seen by as many of the cinema-going audience as possible.”

    However, one important local market indicator could dampen some of the optimism surrounding “xXx’s” box office potential: online presales.

    Jonathan Papish, an industry analyst at China Film Insider, says the film is starting to get a healthy amount of buzz and could comfortably land in the $100 million to $150 million range, but said there’s nothing in the presales data that would indicate anything like the “Furious 7” windfall.

    “Presales started more than a week ago and are only up to about $75,000,” Papish said. “Kris Wu commands a huge online presence and his fans are known to purchase tickets ahead of time, but we just aren’t seeing that with ‘xXx.’ Of course, presales could pick up once hype from the popular Chinese New Year movies dies down.”

    To compare, “Warcraft,” which made $221 million in China, had $3 million in presales more than a week out from its opening.


    Paramount

    Some of that slow start is likely due to Chinese New Year hangover, but Paramount has also yet to fully unleash Diesel and crew on the Chinese market, where he’s a megastar best known for playing Dom Toretto in the “Fast and Furious” movies. Diesel and the rest of the film’s headliners will travel to Beijing next week for press events and fan screenings.

    “Vin has a massive following in China,” Crawley said. “What Vin has done with the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise is phenomenal. He’s such a leader and spokesperson for that franchise. We know he was equally excited to bring Xander Cage back to the big screen. Of course, it’s reminiscent of some of the ‘Fast and Furious’ material.”

    Diesel, who was the first actor to get 100 million Facebook likes, may be a huge name to China’s netizens, but he has work to do to promote “xXx.” The film’s official account on China’s Twitter analogue Weibo hasn’t exactly set the internet on fire despite plenty of effort.

    “‘xXx’s’ official Weibo is the most active I’ve ever seen for a Hollywood movie,” Papish said. “They formed the account all the way back in November 2015 and have been posting content nearly ten times per day for a few months. That said, they’ve only racked up 31,000 followers in all that time.”

    Diesel’s co-stars Yen and Wu should help expand the film’s audience by tapping into their devoted local fan bases. But Yen’s role in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” couldn’t singlehandedly save the film at the Chinese box office: it sputtered, making just $62 million there. Crawley thinks Diesel and the film’s female stars, including Dobrev, who has a significant following in China, should mitigate that.

    “Where China has an emotional connection to ‘Transformers,’ it doesn’t seem they have quite a connection to the ‘Star Wars’ franchise,” Crawley said. “Our movie — because of Vin, because of Kris, because of our actresses — we find ways to connect with different audiences.”

    The stunts in “xXx,” which include Vin Diesel skiing through a tropical jungle, also seem tailor-made for China’s young-skewing theatrical audience. Crawley said the film’s aesthetic is certainly in China’s sweet spot, but also in other international markets.

    “As the head of international, this is just exactly the type of movie we want,” he said, comparing the stunts in “xXx” to those in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” which made $136 million in China.

    Paramount can also count on a secret weapon beyond Diesel and Yen, marketing partner (and new slate financier) Huahua Media. Huahua’s marketing expertise, which included original songs and TV tie-ins, helped propel previous Paramount films like “Transformers: Age of Extinction” — which had the biggest-ever box office gross for a Hollywood movie in China when it premiered in 2014 — to banner performances in the Middle Kingdom. Paramount and Huahua are revisiting some of the same tactics this time around, and focusing on the third- and fourth-tier cities well beyond Beijing and Shanghai that can often determine whether a movie succeeds or flops in China.

    “We know music helps, hence we had Kris Wu record a track called ‘Juice,'” Crawley said. “We shot the music video here in L.A. and Vin’s in the video.”

    Papish said Paramount was smart to bring in Huahua and focus on the third and fourth-tier cities, but he would be surprised if “xXx’s” box office comes close to “Age of Extinction.” That’s not entirely the movie’s fault — China’s box office slowed down last year after years of double-digit growth, up just 4 percent in local currency and actually down year-over-year when converted to dollars, as reduced online ticket subsidies took a toll.

    “Don’t get me wrong, this film is still going to be a surprising success at the box office, and I think Paramount was right to partner with Huahua to target lower-tiered cities, but $300 million plus?” Papish said. “Come on!”

    But word of mouth can push a film to a surprising performance in China, even when presales don’t indicate an opening-weekend bonanza. “Zootopia” took advantage of that, especially in lower-tier cities, and the film made more in its second and third weeks than it did during its opening seven days on its way to $236 million at the Chinese box office, making the animated hit the second-highest grossing film of the year there. And with popular, social media-savvy stars like Diesel, Yen and Wu, “xXx” is well positioned to generate plenty of buzz — maybe enough to stay in China’s theaters long enough to threaten some of its biggest-ever Hollywood imports.

    “It’s the word of mouth that will bring you in and keep you on screen,” Crawley said. “You have to open big and you have to stay strong day-by-day. Or the powers that be will start dropping you off screen.”

    Censors, meet Vin Diesel’s fan base.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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