By the time the panda-themed panda movie opens this month in Hong Kong, it will have earned $3.4 billion at the box office worldwide, according to the China Film Group, which owns the film.
But for a company that’s been around for more than a decade, it has been a tumultuous journey.
From the beginning, the company faced intense competition from domestic players, including Fox Searchlight, which launched a slate of films including the Oscar-nominated “Hands of Stone,” which has grossed $8.8 million worldwide and earned $5.8 billion worldwide, and Disney, which has launched “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Jungle Book.”
The Chinese company, which makes more than 50 films annually, has struggled to maintain its footing as a global producer and distributor.
But it has a good track record when it comes to pandas, with several of its films receiving awards, including “Divergent,” “The Legend of Tarzan” and others.
The company has also enjoyed a renaissance in China with its new franchise “Panda Express,” which premiered in April.
It was one of the highest-grossing Chinese films of all time at the time, grossing more than $1 billion in the country, and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
But the film was a big disappointment, earning $12.7 million in its first weekend and failing to meet expectations.
The film was an adaptation of the popular book “The Life and Death of the Tiger Mother,” based on the novel by Pauline Kael.
“The Panda Express” is directed by Michael Bay, who previously directed the “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Daredevil” and the “Mission Impossible” franchise.
The movie, which is set in the 1950s and is being marketed in China as a “touristic adventure” starring the Chinese pandas and other animals, is scheduled to open in theaters on Oct. 22.
“Beautiful and the Brave,” the next film in the franchise, is slated for release in China on Dec. 12.
A film about pandas has been in development at Universal for more years, with the company previously partnering with the Chinese company and with China’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to produce a film about the species.