‘The Pig, The Snake And The Pigeon’ becomes second biggest Taiwanese film ever in China

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Wong Ching Po's crime thriller The Pig, The Snake And The Pigeon has emerged as the second biggest Taiwanese film of all time on release in mainland China, having grossed over $69.5m (RMB 500m)amid a simultaneous worldwide launch on Netflix.

Distributed by Star Alliance Movies, the film opened third on March 1 at the tail end of the Chinese New Year period, behind festive hits Article 20 and Pegasus 2. But it climbed to number one on its third day of release and has since been topping China’s daily box-office chart for 16 consecutive days, beating other new releases such as Dune: Part Two, which opened on March 8.
Its cumulative takings reached $74.5m (RMB 536m) as of March 19, surpassing Our Times, which took $49.7m (RMB 358m) in 2015, to become the second highest-grossing Taiwanese film in mainland China. It is only behind More Than Blue, which took $133.1m (RMB 958m) in 2019.
“It’s refreshing for the mainland audience to see the depiction of an anti-hero as the protagonist. This prompted a debate and the film just went viral,” Star Alliance Movies’ distribution director Zhu Lingzhao told Screen about the title’s box-office success.
Zhu also shared the Beijing-based company’s distribution strategy, which included preview screenings over two days in 10 key cities before the previews expanded to 38 cities in total. At the same time, the film was promoted on video-sharing platform Douyin where it became a hot trending topic.
Star Alliance Movies has previously distributed Hong Kong films such as Septet: The Story Of Hong Kong and I’m Livin’ It as well as the recent re-release of Japanese filmmaker Shunji Iwai’s 1995 romantic drama Love LetterThe Pig, The Snake And The Pigeon is the company’s most successful release thus far.
In the film, Taiwanese star Ethan Juan (Monga) plays a terminally ill fugitive who decides to get rid of two notorious gangsters and take the crown of the most-wanted criminal. Chen Yi-Wen (A Sun) and Gingle Wang (Detention) co-star along with Hong Kong actor Ben Yuen (Suk Suk).
Director Wong, born in Hong Kong and based in Taiwan, injects Hong Kong-style action sequences and pacing in his latest film, which is understood to have been slightly edited for its brutality and violence for the mainland release. He previously won the best new director prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards for 2004’s Jiang Hu and best director at Moscow International Film Festival for 2010’s Revenge: A Love Story.
While the film is a runaway success in mainland China, it has fared less well in its home market, where it opened on October 6 last year and grossed just shy of $1.6m (NT$50m) – a respectable but not record-breaking result. The film went on to receive seven nominations at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards including best director for Wong and best actor for Juan, winning a single award for best action choreography.

Veteran Taiwanese actress-producer Lee Lieh (Detention) produced the film through her company An Attitude Production. Distribution Workshop handles international sales. 
Netflix started streaming the film globally on March 1, the same day it opened in China’s cinemas.