By Bani Sapra and Serenitie Wang, CNN
One of China’s most highly anticipated summer movies was pulled from Chinese theaters after flopping at the box office on its opening weekend.
The film, “Asura,” raked in a mere $7.1 million, according to official box office numbers — a paltry sum considering it cost 750 million Yuan ($112 million) to make, the movie’s producers said in a news release. It was purportedly the most expensive Chinese movie ever made, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The producers of “Asura” announced on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, that they were ending the theatrical release, but gave no reason for doing so.
“We apologize to the audience who didn’t get a chance to watch the movie and inconveniences caused for staff with partner companies, as well as highest respect to the crew involved in the production over the past six years,” the Weibo post said.
The movie tells the story of a shepherd protecting a mythical Buddhist land called Asura from a three-headed demon king. It was panned by the public, scoring a 3.1 rating out of 10 on Chinese film website Douban. Many thought it was a knockoff of the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.”
The project was backed in part by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures and Zhenjian Film Studio.
Ma and other Chinese entrepreneurs have been open about their ambitions to expand China’s domestic film production as a means of catering to the country’s massive audience. Ma told CNN in 2016 that he would seize on the chance to own one of Hollywood’s Big Six film studios: Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, Columbia and 20th Century Fox.