A box-office monster?

A Hollywood comeback for Chinese star Zhang Ziyi


Zhang: adds a Chinese touch to latest Godzilla blockbuster

When Godzilla was rebooted in 2014, it was the first entry in Legendary Entertainment’s newly minted ‘MonsterVerse’ – that is to say the franchise that also features King Kong (the fictional giant ape got his own big screen makeover in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island).

This time around, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the $170 million sequel, has introduced new characters to the franchise: the dragons King Ghidorah and Rodan, and the Queen of the Monsters, Mothra.

To appeal to Chinese audiences, Legendary – owned by Wanda Group – has also added a familiar face to the cast.

In the new film, Zhang Ziyi plays two roles, playing a crypto scientist and her twin sister. In both cases Zhang’s characters inherit a psychic ability to connect with monsters, and her research on myths about Chinese dragons helps Godzilla to fight off its rival monsters and protect the world.

Compared with Chinese actress Jing Tian’s blink-and-you-miss-it appearance in Kong: Skull Island, Zhang’s scenes in the film make up about five minutes of total screen time. Still, she seems to be pleased about her role. “My character is a little complex; she is not the symbolic role which I feared I would be getting. That would have been a waste of time,” the actress told the China Daily.

“It is a challenge for me to do this film, the role is too far away from my real life. But I love the challenge. If it is not such a challenge, I would rather not accept the role. However, the most important reason for me to agree to do it is because I can learn more from Hollywood,” she added.

Zhang will have plenty of learning experience because she will reprise the role for the sequel Godzilla vs. Kong, which is expected to be released next year.

The latest film in the Wanda film franchise raked in Rmb100 million at the Chinese box office on the first day of its release, with analysts now expecting Godzilla: King of the Monsters to make around Rmb900 million ($130.19 million) in ticket sales by the end of its run. The earlier 2014 Godzilla grossed Rmb480 million in China.

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