SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With 42 overseas markets open through Friday, Warner Bros’ prehistoric shark The Meg has chomped down on $34.5M at the international box office. That includes a $16.2M Friday in China, but not Saturday’s fish flash of another $16.1M there. All told, the Chinese co-production is now looking at a debut offshore weekend around the $90M mark.

Including the Middle Kingdom mouthful on Friday, The Meg swallowed $26.7M from roughly 26,705 screens overseas (key majors still to dive in over the coming weeks include Korea, France, Australia and Japan). Audiences are going along for the ride on a summer fun movie that does not take itself too seriously — although it’s expensive at what we hear is a $178M cost before P&A (studio insiders contend it’s $130M net).

Because of the film’s co-pro structure, WB gets back a higher percentage of the China gate. With an estimated $32.4M through Saturday, The Meg should land in the mid-high $40Ms over the three-day there. Middle Kingdom competition is stiff this session — although Friday’s winner iPartment tumbled precipitously on Saturday amid some controversy and confusion — and Hollywood returns in force across the next several frames. That leaves a question mark hanging for now over the shark’s forward momentum in Chinese waters.

The Meg falls under the Flagship Entertainment joint venture formed by Warner Bros, China Media Capital and TVB in 2015. Flagship’s Gravity Pictures is releasing the film in China; it’s the first to surface from the JV pact to develop and produce Chinese-language films, including global tentpoles, for worldwide distribution. The Meg of course is in English, but incorporates plenty of Chinese elements.

Having Jason Statham aboard for the ride is a boon in China (and other Asian markets) where he’s a big draw and has put in the time promoting the movie on two recent trips to the PROC.

Breaking down the individual plays so far on the Jon Turtletaub-helmed chomper, China’s Friday was $16.2M (RMB 110.5M) including Thursday sneaks and on 12,650 screens. Saturday’s estimate is $16.1M (RMB 110M).

The UK opened on Friday to an estimated $1.5M on 750 screens, narrowly ranking No. 2. The result is 11% ahead of Rampage, 43% ahead of London Has Fallen and more than double White House Down and Into The Storm.
 
Mexico caught $1.5M on 2,123 screens for a dominant No. 1 and surpassing nearly all of the comps including more than doubling Geostorm and coming in 62% ahead of Rampage.
  
Spain also swam in at No. 1 on Friday, baiting the hook with $830K on 307 screens. That’s double-plus on WB titles San Andreas, Geostorm and Rampage.

In the holdover Friday plays, rankings remained the same across the majors (all are No. 1s save Germany where The Meg is docked at No. 2). Russia leads cumes through Friday with $2.4M, followed by the UAE ($1.4M), Malaysia ($1.1M), Indonesia ($1.1M), Italy ($970K), Germany ($781K) and Brazil ($623K).

We’ll have a full opening weekend update tomorrow.

PREVIOUS, FRIDAY, writethru: Warner Bros’ shark tale The Meg has splashed into 29 offshore markets through Thursday, taking a $7.2M bite out of the international box office. Not included in that mouthful is China, a key play on the Jason Statham-starrer. The first flash numbers out of the Middle Kingdom today are $16M (RMB 110M) in what is still a competitive summer marketplace.

Gravity Pictures is releasing the co-production in China where The Meg‘s Friday came in above comps San Andreas, Skyscraper and Geostorm. The opening there portends a weekend in the $40Ms as the crew battles it out with local pics iPartment and The Island, which respectively placed Nos. 1 and 2 on Friday. Swimming in at No. 3, The Meg is entering China as the summer blackout begins to wrap and as each of the next several Fridays sees a big Hollywood movie release.

The Meg got off to a strong start in Thursday previews domestically and is looking at an offshore debut well upwards of $60M, including the China take.

Along with Statham, who is a big draw at Chinese turnstiles (the Statham-led Mechanic: Resurrection finaled at about $49M there in 2016) the Meg cast includes Li Bingbing and the film is set off the mainland’s coast. Statham has traveled twice to the Middle Kingdom recently in support of the movie, at both the Shanghai Film Festival and last week’s Beijing premiere.

Directed by Jon Turtletaub, the sci-fi thriller is about a prehistoric 75-foot-long predator, the Megalodon, who threatens the lives of a research team trapped underwater — and the fate of the ocean itself.

The Meg Jason Statham Li Bingbing
Nina PrommerShutterstock

Among the Thursday highlights, Russia opened to $1.3M on 2,622 screens, ranking a dominant No. 1 with a 73% box office share of the Top 5 films.  The opening day sets the shark tracking above nearly all comps including Rampage, Geostorm and San Andreas.

The UAE landed the second-biggest opening day for a WB movie behind only Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. With $706K on 130 screens, it was a clear No. 1 in the market that’s been dominated by Mission: Impossible – Fallout of late.

Italy took the bait, bowing as WB’s best opening day of the year with $569K on 363 screens and 75% of the Top 5 movies. It further doubled launch-day results of White House Down, London Has Fallen, Rampage, Geostorm and San Andreas. Holland was a No. 1 start at $285K on 175 — also the highest bow for WB in 2018.

Germany grossed $361K at 557 screens, slotting 2nd. Results are close to 50% ahead of Pacific Rim: Uprising and San Andreas. Brazil was a No. 1 start at $264K on 882 to top comps.

Outside China, launches in Asia are all No. 1 save Hong Kong where The Meg is No. 2. The region made a collective $1.9M on Thursday.

Rounding out the international main cast are Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Cliff Curtis, Sophia Shuya Cai, Masi Oka and Winston Chao.

A presentation of Warner Bros Pictures and Middle Kingdom-based Gravity Pictures, The Meg is a production of di Bonaventura Pictures, Apelles Entertainment, Maeday Productions and WB’s China joint venture Flagship Entertainment, in association with Beijing Digital Impression Film.

Today adds the UK and Mexico along with another 11 more offshore hubs. We’ll have further updates through the weekend.