Jackie Chan is Star Cinemaâs âlucky charmâ
The martial arts superstar topbills the fantasy-action epic The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang. A Chinese New Year release, it’s the third Jackie Chan film distributed locally by Star Cinema.
Jackie Chan is Star Cinema’s ‘lucky charm’
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — ABS-CBN Films’ Star Cinema has acquired over 30 foreign films for local distribution, including the latest and potential blockbuster Jackie Chan starrer The Knight of Shadows: Between Ying and Yang. 

Releasing a Jackie Chan film has become a Chinese New Year tradition for the flagship film outfit of the Kapamilya network, said Enrico Santos, head of the concept development group and new media for ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. Produced by Kiefer Liu (one of the pioneers of 3D in China who created the international hit The Monkey King), The Knight of Shadows rolls into Philippine theaters on Feb. 6.

The film has been described as a fantasy martial arts comedy epic. According to Santos, it reminds him of the 1996 Pinoy family-fantasy adventure Magic Temple but with kung fu and a Romeo and Juliet love story in between, and is a virtual feast of all possible technical effects that can be used in cinema.

The film also stars Chinese actress Elane Zhong and...

“It’s like the Chinese producers are saying... if you (Hollywood) have Infinity War, we have this,” Santos said. “For aficionados of superhero movies, this is the first time to see like the Asian answer to (Western) superheroes.”

Centerpiece scenes are Chan’s mirror fight scene as well as his 15- to 20-minute fight sequence at zero gravity that serves as the climax of The Knight of Shadows. Even at his age of 64, the martial arts superstar is still famous for not getting a stunt double. Viewers get a glimpse of the brutal action he gets himself into via the blooper reel that’s shown under the end credits of his movies.

In his new film, Chan plays a demon hunter who comes to the aid of a small village under attack by “inhuman” invaders. Santos said, “It’s the old Jackie Chan and more. He has embraced technology and is pushing China as a cinema for the world. Sana may Pilipino tayo na ganun.”

The Knight of Shadows is the third Jackie Chan film released in Philippine cinemas by Star Cinema following Reset in 2017 and A Better Tomorrow in 2018. While no specific numbers were provided, the earlier films proved to be a lucky charm in the box office. Santos hopes The Knight of Shadows will be Star Cinema’s third hit in a row. He also said that they’re happy to have established a relationship with the camp of the international action icon that his movies are offered to ABS-CBN Films first even though there are other bidders.

...Taiwanese actormodel Ethan Juan

Since Star Cinema has been releasing here Chan’s works, can movie fans expect the film production company to organize premieres in the future with the actor himself in attendance, similar to the star-studded Aquaman premiere and fan meet last year?

“Pag-nakaipon na kami ng $300,000 to rent the (private) airplane,” Santos mused. “He only travels by private jet and requires $300,000 minimum without entourage. I think that’s the rental of plane. Iba naman siya, one of the few Asians to break internationally and a one-man empire.”

According to Santos, they have acquired more than 30 international films in the last two years. He said, “Actually, di kumikita ang foreign films (they are not earning). Ang kumikita lang ay superhero, big-budget films, one or two horror films and Jackie Chan. So, of the 30 plus films namin, inuunti unti lang namin para maka-break even.”

They also have the so-called “prestige” acquisitions like The Wife starring Glenn Close, who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress and is nominated for an Oscar. The film will be reissued before or after this year’s Oscars after its limited theater run here last year. 

Santos said that these acquisitions are an effort towards “relationship-building so that we will be part of the international movie community.” This, as ABS-CBN Films set its sights on more international co-productions. Last year, it started via the Charo Santos-Concio and Bea Alonzo thriller Eerie, collaborating for the first time with the Singapore-based Cre8 Productions.

For Santos, it’s also okay for ABS-CBN Films to explore as these acquisitions can be utilized in other platforms and services of the network, from free TV to cable to iWant and Cinema One.

Nevertheless, the flourishing availability of streaming channels and video-on-demand services has been seen as a threat if not a formidable challenge to cinemas as well as film production and distribution outfits. 

Santos said, “If you’re not Warner, Disney, Fox, Marvel Studios na Disney din, alam ko ang hirap na kumita ngayon. It’s really very hard bringing foreign films to the country for theatrical release and for Filipinos to enjoy them on the big screen, especially in the age of Netflix. But we persist because some movies are just made for the big screen.”

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