If Monster Hunt has its sights set on all-time Middle Kingdom box office champ, Furious 7, it will need to put another $62.6M in the tank. While that Universal title is still several laps ahead, the local-language juggernaut has been on a tear, steadily rounding up records during its 25-day run thus far. Rentrak puts Monster Hunt‘s cume as of Sunday at $328.4M locally which shoots it past Transformers: Age Of Extinction ($318.78M) to become the No. 2 movie ever at the Chinese box office. The Global Times reports that Monster Hunt‘s official Sina Weibo account said it had earned 2B yuan ($322M) as of Saturday night. The only other film ever to cross 2B is Furious 7 with 2.43B.
F7 beat TAOE‘s record in April this year and went on to $391M to become the top film ever in the Middle Kingdom. But movies from China have put the pedal to the metal during the current blackout period which sidelines Hollywood films and boosts local market share. Monster Hunt has led the pack, becoming China’s biggest local movie of all time in late July. It bested previous record holder Lost In Thailand for the honor and then moved up to become the No. 3 movie ever, overtaking recent blockbusters Jurassic World ($229M) and Avengers: Age Of Ultron ($235.5M).
The CGI/live-action fantasy adventure film is helmed by Shrek franchise alumnus Raman Hui and produced by veteran Bill Kong of Edko Films. It almost didn’t make it to movie houses when a 2014 ban on actors involved in drug arrests meant that co-star Ko Kai’s scenes had to be reshot. He was ultimately replaced by Jing Boran.
The story sees a man give birth to a monster king who resembles a “white radish.” He must go on to protect the little fellow from evil-doers (see trailer below).
It broke records from the get-go, scoring the biggest first day and biggest single-day gross ever for a local title in July. It also set an IMAX record for a locally-produced movie with $8.7M.
This frame, Monster Hunt added $16.4M in six markets, per Rentrak, with local research outfit Ent Group showing a $7M day on Friday in China alone, suggesting there is still plenty of momentum behind it. The blackout month is drawing to a close as Terminator: Genisys prepares to be the first Hollywood movie let back into the Middle Kingdom on August 23. After that, early September is packed with studio movies from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (September 8), to Minions (September 13) and Pixels (September 15). Although unconfirmed, Ant-Man and Inside Out are also expected to land early fall dates.
The July and August frames will almost surely ensure China’s coveted 50%+ annual market share, aided by other big hits Pancake Man and Monkey King: Hero Is Back. (And there are more blackout periods expected to come in October and December.) Industry consultant Rob Cain has estimated that cumulative box office revenue for 2015 is 45% higher year-on-year versus 2014 and could be on pace for as much as $6.9B when 2015 is wrapped.
For a refresher, here’s the Monster Hunt trailer: