Back to IndieWire

China Lion Buys “Sex and Zen,” but Can Chinese 3D Erotica Come to a Theater Near You?

China Lion Buys "Sex and Zen," but Can Chinese 3D Erotica Come to a Theater Near You?

China Lion Film Distribution wants to bring Chinese erotic epic “Sex and Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy” to North American theaters — but which theaters want the movie?

With its acquisition of North American rights, China Lion is excited about the prospect of distributing the Chinese blockbuster that producer Stephen Shiu Yeuk-Yuen describes as “just like [being a] voyeur near someone’s bed.” In Australia and New Zealand, the film received a rating of R18 — the equivalent of America’s NC-17. While many China Lion titles are released unrated, a spokesperson for the distributor says China Lion plans to submit the film to the MPAA for its theatrical release.

China Lion has an exhibition deal with AMC under which the multiplex chain has agreed to screen 15 of China Lion’s films to a minimum of 23 North American screens per year. However, AMC is not in the habit of screening NC-17 films.

“Generally, we evaluate the entertainment we choose to play in our theatres and make business decisions based on assessed appeal to a broad and diverse audience as well as potential for commercial success,” says Ryan Noonan, AMC’s director of public relations. “Films given an NC-17 are not exhibited without complete executive approval.”

Other NC-17 titles avoid the censure of major chains by working with independent theaters. However, fewer independent theaters are likely to have the equipment necessary to screen a 3D movie.

That said, it’s easy to understand the film’s allure for China Lion. “Sex and Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy” made a powerful impact in the Hong Kong box office, outgrossing the opening-day numbers from James Cameron’s “Avatar” and “Titanic.”

Below is the full release:


LOS ANGELES, CA May 25, 2011

China Lion Film Distribution has announced that they have concluded a North American distribution deal at the Cannes market for the Chinese erotic blockbuster ‘Sex and Zen 3D : Extreme Ecstasy’.

The film has broken box office records since its release in Australia, New Zealand & Hong Kong with opening week sessions completely sold out. In Australia, the film took $600K in its first week on just 9 screens for a whopping per screen average of $67K per screen, more than 6 times the per screen average of Scream 4 which opened the same week. The pic has racked up some $1.1M in 6 weeks in the territory for a staggering $122K per screen average. In comparison Fast & Furious 5 has a per screen average of $114K. In New Zealand opening week saw a per screen average of $24K while the opening week of Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has just managed to catch Sex & Zen also on $24K per screen.

In Hong Kong, the film beat the opening days grosses of ‘Avatar’ and ‘Titanic’ with $US351K. The picture received an R18 (Restricted to 18 year olds and above) in both Australia & New Zealand with censors ordering no cuts.

The erotic costume drama film is an adaptation of the classical novel The Carnal Prayer Mat depicting the sexual exploits of a young scholar named Wei Yangsheng. It is produced by Stephen Shiu, the executive producer of its predecessor film. The film was promoted as “the world’s first 3-D erotic film”. Producer Stephen Shiu Yeuk-Yuen described the experience of watching this film onscreen: “It is just like [being a] voyeur near someone’s bed.”

Release dates and locations for North America are yet to be set.

China Lion CEO Milt Barlow remarked, “We’re looking at a wide as possible release for this ground breaking film in Nth America and are currently working with our theatrical partners AMC for the US and Toronto , Cineplex for Vancouver and Consolidated in Hawaii. on dating and locations. Announcements are expected in the next few weeks. We believe this film will play a lot wider than our traditional Chinese audience in key cities and are looking to exploit those opportunities.”

Belinda Inacio Lam who repped the picture for Pegasus Motion Pictures commented “I have worked with Milt and his team on a number of Chinese pictures over the years and so China Lion was a natural choice for us for North American releasing. We believe, as it has done in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, that the film will go on to set box office records in North America.”

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox