I was shocked to learn last week of the surprising success of Bi-Gan's “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at the Chinese box-office. The film, which I reviewed earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, is as artsy as they come. Even some of the highest-browed critics I've spoken to have admitted how hard it was to follow the film's plot. However, thanks to a misleading promotional campaign which sold it as a romcom, Bi-Gan's film had record-breaking success at the Chinese box office. “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” earned $38 million in ticket sales, that is before Chinese audiences caught on and realized this wasn't the film they signed up for.
With many spots fully booked and cinemas hosting more screenings to cater for demand, it then dropped significantly the following week, more specifically 96%. Yikes. It currently has a 2.8 score on Maoyan (Chinese Rotten Tomatoes for audiences), which is the lowest I’ve ever seen.
As per The Guardian:
"This was thanks to an artful marketing campaign that timed screenings to end on the stroke of midnight, and encouraged audience members to lock lips in the final scene, mirroring the protagonists. As Variety reports, a campaign suggested the film (which has no connection to the classic Eugene O’Neill play) was the perfect first-date film..."