THE WOLF OF THE WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE

Written by Fred Bailey

Three things you should know about China’s Wolf Warrior 2.

#1—It dominates the world box office at $850M in tickets sold.

#2—It’s China’s foreign-language Oscar submission this year.

And #3—It’s China’s all-time biggest-grossing film.

In case that’s not enough, here’s something else:  According to Box Office Mojo, it’s also number 55 in the world’s 100 top-grossing movies, the only non-Hollywood entry on that list.

Made on a budget of about $30M, it is a thunderous action spectacle.

Where did it come from?

It’s the work of its 43-year-old writer/director/star Wu Jing.

Born in Beijing to a family of martial artists, Wu got his start in Hong Kong in the mid-1990s.  After more than 20 action thrillers and a lot of TV, he got some good advice from a mentor who told him, “Do everything yourself…win or lose, it’s in your own hands.”

He went off on his own to make the original Wolf Warrior on a $12M investment from his wife.  People told him he’d be lucky if he broke even.

But it surprised them all when it brought in $90M and opened the way for a record-breaking sequel.

Wolf Warrior 2 is set in Africa and co-stars ubiquitous American character actor Frank Grillo as the villain of the piece.

Grillo has been around about as long as Wu.  You might have seen him in The Purge: Election Year, in two Captain Americas: Winter Soldier and Civil War, as well as grittier stuff like Zero Dark Thirty and The Grey with Liam Neeson.

Not that anybody says it will, but it’s not going to hurt Grillo’s career to be spotted prominently in one of the most widely-seen movies ever made.

A.R. IN YOUR AUTO

Written by Andria Chek

Ever wondered what it’s like to ride in Batman’s Batmobile through Gotham City? Now you can find out. According to The Verge, top tech and entertainment companies Intel and Warner Bros. are partnering to bring a whole new level of entertainment to self-driving cars. Called the “AV Entertainment Experience,” virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology will be utilized and identified as the most prominent game changer for autonomous vehicles.

While on the road, not only will riders be able to watch their favorite TV shows, browse their phones, or even take naps, but through AR technology, they will also be able to immerse themselves in a reality where the interior of the car replicates that of the Batmobile, complete with the windows creating an effect of driving through Gotham City.

According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, “Intel’s goal is to ‘enable’ passengers in their self-driving vehicles to ‘view advertising and other discovery experiences.’” Integrating VR/AR technology is just one way to achieve that. Self-driving vehicles allow tech and entertainment companies (such as Intel and Warner Bros.) the chance to take advantage of this new technology. By integrating immersive content into self-driving cars, you won’t even realize you’ve reached your destination. Maybe sitting in traffic won’t be so bad after all.

CHINA—A VITAL MARKET FOR APPS

Written by Fred Bailey

China is the biggest smartphone market in the world, surpassing the U.S. in 2016 to become the leading purchaser of apps.

So it comes as no surprise when Apple chief Tim Cook tells us Chinese developers have made a total of almost $17B at the App Store, an Apple-run digital distribution platform which itself has earned $70B overall since its kick-off in 2008.

Which in turn means that revenues for China’s 1.8M local mobile app developers constitute about one-fourth of the global total.

The App Store started off with some 500 applications available for sale.  By January of 2017, the store was offering more than two million apps.

Cook revealed those figures while keynoting the fourth World Internet Conference in scenic Wuzhen, one of the six ancient towns south of the Yangtze just outside of Beijing.

“The theme of this conference—developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits—is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook noted in his remarks.  “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”

China is an essential element in Apple’s global strategies. The iPhone maker has the majority of its products manufactured in China, but it’s facing some pretty stiff competition from domestic organizations like Huawei and Xiaomi.

It was the second time Cook has made an appearance in China this year, since a meeting with President Xi in October.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also attended the 2017 World Internet Conference, commenting, “Technology is giving opportunities at a global scale, driving interconnectedness and cooperation…It’s a big trend, and I think it’s almost irreversible at this point.”

Executives from Cisco, Facebook, Microsoft and LinkedIn also participated in the conference.