Los Angeles Times

As its film business grows up, China faces an 'Ishtar' moment with its most expensive movie

It was supposed to be China's "Lord of the Rings." Instead, it turned into another "Ishtar," the infamous box office bomb of 1987.

Produced for more than $100 million, the fantasy epic "Asura" was billed as the most expensive movie ever produced by China's burgeoning film industry. It aimed to spawn a trilogy based on Tibetan mythology by following a classic Hollywood playbook: pair a time-tested story with sumptuous visual effects, big-name actors and industry veterans.

Then the movie hit theaters last weekend with a thud, grossing just $7 million. In a stunning retreat, the producers quickly yanked the mega-flop from theaters, offering no explanation.

"We apologize to the audience who never got to watch the movie and the inconvenience it caused," they said on Chinese social media site Weibo.

"Asura" became the talk of the Chinese film industry after it disappeared

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