Jan. 1, 2014 -- Sure, the Seattle Times only gave Chinese romcom "Finding Mr. Right" two stars, but that hasn't stopped Chinese tourists from flocking to the city since the movie debuted in China last March.
"The phones started ringing and it hasn't stopped. We have been amazed at the response," said Janet Christopher, vice president of tourism for Visit Seattle, told the ABC News station KOMO in Seattle. "This is bigger than 'Sleepless in Seattle.'"
The movie is about Jiajia, a woman who travels from China's mainland to Seattle to have her married boyfriend's baby, win his love and spend his money. Determined to have the baby in the United States, the movie's trailer shows her telling a customs officer she loves Nora Ephron's "Sleepless in Seattle" ("I love that movie," she says, closing her eyes and shaking her fists. "I love it!").
Of course, everything doesn't work out as planned. The boyfriend doesn't leave his wife, and his money runs out. But the protagonist winds up falling for her driver, Frank.
Frank, the movie's Mr. Right, turns out to be a former doctor who moved to Seattle for his daughter because his ex-wife's job moved them there. And -- spoiler alert -- Frank and Jiajia somehow wind up at the Empire State Building in Manhattan at the end, just like the characters of "Sleepless in Seattle."
"What we have seen is a number of people want to come over and have a second wedding or a honeymoon-type vacation -- couples that are getting married in China but they want to come to Seattle and recreate a wedding experience because of this movie," Christopher told KOMO.
On New Year's Eve, the Chinese news network CCTV did a live broadcast from Seattle's Kerry Park for the movie.
"Finding Mr. Right" earned more than 500 million yuan -- about $82.5 million – since it's March debut in China, according to CCTV. It opened in select theaters in the United States in November.