UPDATE: The film that just won’t quit in China, Wolf Warrior 2, has now crossed into even further uncharted territory. Wu Jing’s Rambo-esque actioner passed the $600M mark at the Middle Kingdom box office today, gnashing its teeth on an estimated $618.6M (RMB 4.13B), per local research outfit Ent Group. Earlier this week (see below) it had surpassed Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid to become the biggest movie ever in the PROC. With Friday’s (dollar) grosses included, it is No. 6 on the all-time charts for the highest gross in a single territory, surpassing The Dark Knight‘s North American take of $535M.
Wolf Warrior 2 will shed screens this weekend, its third, but still ruled Middle Kingdom turnstiles today. It easily maintained No. 1 ahead of newcomers Guilty Of Mind, The Adventurers and Legend Of The Naga Pearls.
The Chinese juggernaut, which has added much-needed bite to the local box office this year, next has The Avengers ($623M), Jurassic World ($652M) and Titanic ($659M) in its sights this weekend to break through as the 3rd highest-grossing movie in a single territory. The Hollywood films mentioned achieved their milestones in North America.
WW2 will run through this month and into September when the Chinese market opens back up to imports (Cars 3, Baby Driver, Valerian, Dunkirk and Spider-Man: Homecoming among them). The film has clearly found a niche during the summer blackout period, boosted by a patriotic element that’s resonated. But it’s also been praised for stunning action scenes and as a departure from recent local efforts. An assist from the Russo brothers and a crack team is also worth note.
The film also has made $1.5M in two weeks of release in North America via Well Go USA.
(NB: we are henceforth amending the WW2 title to the singular after it’s been bandied about in various forms — a bugaboo that comes when there is not one official translation.)
PREVIOUS, August 7 11:14 PM PT: After just 12 days in release, military actioner Wolf Warriors 2 has become the highest-grossing film ever at the Chinese box office. Directed by and starring Wu Jing, it gunned through RMB 3.4B Monday night, besting the previous RMB 3.39B record set by Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid in 2016, per local reports.
Given currency swings, the dollar comps are skewed: WW2 has a reported $506M in sales while The Mermaid racked up $527M at historical rates. The current film will nevertheless easily outpace that. Ahead of the weekend, there were predictions of an RMB 3.8B ($565M) finish; those have since increased with some going as high as RMB 5B ($747M).
Last week, WW2 had already surpassed The Fate Of The Furious ($393M/RMB 2.6B) to become the No. 1 movie in China this year. It had also bested the No. 2 Chinese movie ever, Monster Hunt, which grossed about $382M in 2015 (albeit under somewhat dubious circumstances). Going into the weekend, WW2 boasted the 2nd biggest gross for a single territory in 2017, and has since overtaken Beauty And The Beast ($504M domestically) at No. 1. Along with Beauty, The Mermaid and now WW2, only seven other movies have ever crossed $500M in one market.
The new milestones come after a staggering sophomore PROC weekend performance that was up 30% versus its debut. The sequel to 2015’s $87M grosser, Wolf Warrior, it feasted on $163M in the frame, and added over $35M on Monday, per local reporting.
Other records include the biggest single-day gross for a Chinese film and being the fastest to cross the RMB 1B, 2B and 3B box office marks. While WW2 similarly falls during a blackout period, The Mermaid was released in the 2016 Spring Festival corridor. It became the Middle Kingdom’s top grosser also after only 12 days. However, in that time it made just RMB 2.49B ($382M non-restated). It was the first-ever Chinese movie to cross $500M at home, doing so after three weeks of play (See below for The Mermaid‘s congrats message to the Wolf Warriors crew).
Also starring Frank Grillo, Celina Jade and Hans Zhang — with an assist from the Russo brothers who consulted on the pic — WW2 had made $1.06M in the U.S. through Sunday via Well Go. In Australia, it’s grossed $543K and we are waiting on figures from the UK which bowed this past weekend. The Mermaid went on to a $27M international box office gross outside China.
Speaking to China.org, WW2 producer Zhang Miao of Beijing Culture Media Company offered his thoughts on why the movie has struck a chord at home. “The film’s success is mainly down to the complete devotion of the team led by director Wu Jing, but we think this is also a triumph of the communist revolutionary gene in the film, a triumph of the Chinese dream for building a strong nation, and a triumph of the current spirit of the time.”
Much has been made of the closing scene, a shot of a Chinese passport and an admonishment to citizens that they should not give up in the face of danger on foreign soil: “Remember, at your back stands a strong motherland.”
It’s likely WW2‘s run will be extended past the average one-month allotment. That’s not unusual for movies that overindex. IMAX China is also set to release a converted version on August 18. The kibosh on imports ends August 25 with Cars 3, Baby Driver and Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets; followed by Dunkirk, Spider-Man: Homecoming and War For The Planet Of The Apes in the early weeks of September.
Below is the graphic by the folks behind The Mermaid congratulating the Wolf Warriors 2 team on the record. Per China.org, the original post read, “When the nation is prosperous and the people are strong and powerful, the mermaids will also feel proud.”
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