China’s first blockbuster of the summer of 2023, Lost in the Stars, is readying for release in North America, Australia and New Zealand later this week.
The film will launch on July 7 in approximately 60 locations across 30 cities in the U.S. and Canada, courtesy of China’s international distributor CMC Pictures. The release in Australia and New Zealand, on July 6 and July 13, respectively, will be of a similar scale.
Lost in the Stars launched in China on June 22 and already has earned about $360 million there — more than what recent Hollywood hits like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($343.4 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($355 million) grossed at home in North America.
Chinese commercial blockbusters tend to play more like specialty releases in the West, however, primarily appealing to the Chinese diaspora market, while racking up earnings more in line with what breakthrough Asian arthouse titles earn. Well Go USA released the Chinese sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth 2 in North America earlier this year and it brought in just over $5 million (it earned over $600 million in China).
Lost in the Stars is an adaptation written and produced by Chinese hitmaker Chen Sicheng, best known for the blockbuster Detective Chinatown franchise. The film’s source material has a long pedigree. It’s based on French writer, director and actor Robert Thomas’ 1960 murder mystery play Trap for a Lonely Man, which Albert Hitchcock once bought the rights to but never adapted. Russian filmmaker Alexey Korenev made a movie adaptation in 1990 titled A Trap for a Lonely Man, and the Chinese film is based on that movie.
Co-directed by Rui Cui and Xiang Liu, the Chinese film stars Zhu Yilong as a man whose wife (played by Janice Man) mysteriously disappears while they are on vacation to celebrate their anniversary. Just as the frantic search for her begins to run out of steam, she reappears out of the blue, but the husband insists the peculiar woman in front of him — despite looking just like her — is an imposter and not actually his wife. An attorney (played by actress Ni Ni) then gets involved in the case, and more mysteries slowly emerge.
Lost in the Stars is still going strong at China’s box office, where it is distributed by Alibaba Pictures. Local ticketing app Maoyan projects the film to top out at over $450 million.