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Is 'The Medallion' key to new success?

August 18, 2003|Robert W. Welkos

The problem with trying to judge the success or failure of a Jackie Chan movie is this: Do you look at the phenomenal box office revenues of "Rush Hour," which raked in $141.2 million, and its sequel, "Rush Hour 2," which grossed $226.2 million, and wonder why nothing else he has made has ever come close?

Or do you look at such films as "Shanghai Noon" ($56.9 million), "The Tuxedo" ($50.4 million) and "Shanghai Knights" ($60.5 million) and say, well, they produced decent, if not spectacular, returns?

On Friday, Screen Gems will release a new Hong Kong martial arts film starring Chan called "The Medallion," reputed to be Hong Kong's most expensive movie at a price tag of $34 million (cheap, though, by Hollywood standards).

Co-starring Lee Evans and Claire Forlani, the action-comedy features Chan as a Hong Kong cop who suffers a near-fatal accident while investigating a case involving a mysterious medallion, which provides him with incredible new powers of speed, strength and skills.

Originally titled "Highbinders," the film was directed by Gordon Chan (no relation) and produced by Alfred Cheung. Screen Gems changed the title because it felt audiences might be confused by it.

With test screenings popular with kids and their parents, the studio has decided to market the film primarily to the preteen and young teen audience, a strategy similar to the DreamWorks release of "Tuxedo." Screen Gems, a specialty label within Sony Pictures Entertainment, plans to open the PG-13 film on more than 2,000 screens.

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