China has added a pair of Hollywood titles to its August release roster with Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation checking in on August 17 and Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man And The Wasp making a beeline for August 24. As we wrote on Friday, Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout is going August 31, and as previously noted, Universal’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is tuned up for August 3. Along with Warner Bros/Gravity Pictures’ The Meg on August 10, that sets up a month of Middle Kingdom Fridays with splashy fare attached.
Neither Sony nor Disney could be reached for comment regarding the HT3 and AM&TW releases at the time of writing. However, local media and ticketing sites in China roundly cite the dates. There are also new posters for both films.
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With the influx of studio movies next month, the July blackout is curtailed this year versus last. In 2017, it was a long six weeks on the sidelines as Wolf Warrior 2 smashed records throughout to become the highest-grossing Middle Kingdom movie of all time. The hiatus on major imports ultimately ended on August 25 when Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, Cars 3 and Baby Driver were released. Dunkirk followed September 1.
During the month of July 2017, Universal/Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 had the vaunted status of being the final Hollywood title to go out, before the PROC doors shut and the Wolf howled. DM3 ultimately made $158M in the Middle Kingdom. This year, Universal/Legendary’s Skyscraper was granted a slot in the middle of the blackout, on July 20, and has grossed an estimated $86M after two frames.
The incoming Hollywood titles may face competition from local comedy Hello Mr Billionaire which bowed this weekend to a stunning estimate of $131M. The comedy is a remake of Universal’s 1985 Richard Pryor-starrer Brewster’s Millions and came in on par with the start of Wolf Warrior 2 last year which went on to gross over $850M. We’re hearing local projections of upwards of $400M on Billionaire.
There are various schools of thought as to why China is more flexible with release dates this year. On the one hand, while Billionaire is looking at a tidy cume and Dying To Survive has reached $444M in a little over three weeks, there’s no one movie with the giant Wolf Warrior 2-esque grosses — and there was a big misfire with the mega-budget Asura which was pulled from theaters after just a few days earlier this month. Another film that has been much-hyped, L.O.R.D.: Legend Of Ravaging Dynasties 2, saw its release postponed from July.
Those factors together mean China could be looking to maximize summer box office with the addition of the Hollywood pics as a means to ensure August doesn’t see a big drop versus 2017. And, while negotiations between the USTR and China on behalf of the movie business have stalled due to the ongoing overall trade issues, it’s just possible that the Middle Kingdom is aiming to show it’s keen to stay on Hollywood’s good side.
Hotel Transylvania 3 continues the franchise’s hit run with $165M so far in 55 offshore markets and $284.2M global. The last movie, which had a different release pattern, went out in China in late October 2015 and grossed $18.7M locally. Ant-Man And The Wasp is at $211.1M internationally and $394.2M worldwide through Sunday. The previous film buzzed into China in mid-October 2015 and grossed over $105M there. Both titles still have other major offshore markets to come.
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