Six Degrees of Schwarzenegger Podcast – Big Trouble in Little China Ep. 10


Highlights from this section of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

  • Wang versus Thunder
  • Jack’s reflexes
  • Lo Pan’s death and the demise of Thunder
  • A debt is repaid
  • Jack moseys on down the road

From box office bomb to cult favorite

With a reported budget of $18 million, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA’s gross of $11 million can only be defined as a disappointment.  The expectations of those in the industry were that BTILC would be one of the box office hits of 1986, but when all was said and done, the movie finished as the 71st highest grossing film of the year

The production was beleaguered by myriad difficulties.  FOX executives were meddling in the production from the get-go, protestors were concerned with what they felt was a story that disrespected Chinese culture, and the entire production was being rushed in an attempt to beat THE GOLDEN CHILD to cinemas.  When the finished product hit theaters, much like Jack Burton, it seemed to rub everybody the wrong way. 

But like so many other cult movies, BIG TROUBLE found its audience through home video and cable television.  And as the years and decades have passed, the fandom for BTILC has continued to grow.  A film that had very few product tie-ins at its release now has books, comics, toys, board games, and more.  I recently attended a screening of the film at a local theater in Atlanta, and it was a full house with fans reciting their favorite lines and cheering every big moment.


A second life for a beloved misfit? 

In the final frames of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, John Carpenter teased that the adventure might go on as we saw that the “Chinese Wild Man” monster had escaped Lo Pan’s lair and hidden on the Pork Chop Express.  Reports emerged in the summer of 2015 that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson acquired the rights to BTILC and was developing a follow-up project.  Initially news outlets pegged the project as a remake, but subsequent reports indicate that the project is being planned as a continuation of the original story. 

News of a remake/reboot/sequel to such a beloved cult favorite inspired strong reaction from fans and even those who worked on the original film.  Johnson is on record as saying he hopes to have John Carpenter involved in the project, but Carpenter seems largely indifferent to the potential sequel.  Carpenter said in 2015 that he was “ambivalent” about the possibility, then later took a harder stance in 2018 when he said “they don’t give a shit about me and my movie” and that the entire motivation was to create a cash cow for The Rock with a built-in fandom.  Kurt Russell seems rather indifferent, saying in a 2015 interview “I don’t know what their reasons are for remaking the movie but I hope that they have the right reasons and I hope that they do it well.” 

For his part, Dwayne Johnson seems to be saying the right things, telling Entertainment Weekly that he has “nothing but love and respect for the original” and hopes to have Carpenter and Russell involved in some capacity.  The Rock’s partners at Seven Bucks Productions told Collider “We’re going to continue the universe of Big Trouble in Little China. Everything that happened in the original exists and is standalone and I think there’s only one person that could ever play Jack Burton, so Dwayne would never try and play that character.”  So it seems, whatever reservations fans and the original filmmakers may have and whether this sequel ever sees the light of day, The Rock and his collaborators seem serious about respecting the original and building upon its legend.


Further reading: Well, not so much reading, but check out The Coupe De VillesAMAZING music video for the song “Big Trouble in Little China”