The fantasy epic film Asura, which has been boasted to be one of the most expensive films ever made in China, has suspended its nationwide release since Sunday after investors saw financial disaster ahead.
"All investors agree and have decided to suspend the national release of Asura, since 10 pm on July 15," said a statement released by the distributors of the film on Sunday afternoon. They also thanked those who supported the film, associated collaborators, the creative team and cast members, and apologized to those who wanted to see the film.
A producer of Asura, Yang Zhenjian, told China.org.cn that the film's budget was 750 million yuan ($112 million), one of the largest in Chinese filmmaking history. Yang added that they wanted to raise the bar for the Chinese film industry by doing this big-budget fantasy movie like no one had tried before.
Yang was also a producer of another Chinese fantasy blockbuster, Wu Ershan's Painted Skin: The Resurrection" the second installment of the Painted Skin series. The film grossed 702 million yuan and became the highest-grossing domestic film in China for a short time in 2012, until the record was beaten by Lost in Thailand later that year.
But Painted Skin: The Resurrection gave Yang and his fellow investors, including Ningxia Film Group chairman Yang Hongtao, a push to do something else rather than Painted Skin 3 – a much better fantasy based on Asian myth.
"We thought, if we just want to make some quick money, and if our film industry doesn't advance to another level, it will be no good for Chinese films," Yang said. This ambition led him and more than 20 investing companies to come together to build a fantasy world that would live up to international standards.