SUNDAY UPDATE: Through the first full weekend of Chinese cinemas resuming operations in low-risk areas across the country, local moviegoers demonstrated increased demand. The Friday-Saturday-Sunday session was worth nearly $13M from all titles, rising on each of the days. Play was led by Universal’s Dolittle with a 3-day tally of $5.2M from about 3,000 screens. This was the first time the Robert Downey Jr-starrer hit the market, having been sidelined as the coronavirus shut down theaters. Sony/Bona’s Bloodshot came in at $2.8M, according to ticketing platform Maoyan.
As previously noted, these sorts of numbers are not typical of China — where only about 40% of cinemas are currently open and have 30% capacity restrictions — but they are notable. It’s encouraging that we’ve seen increases through the frame in the world’s second biggest box office market and bodes well for the further new Hollywood titles that are dated in the coming weeks. Cinemas began reopening last Monday, July 20, and across the first seven days Chinese box office was good for about $15.5M. While Korea has been doing strong business over the past couple of frames, it’s nice to see figures in the millions elsewhere.
Rounding out the Top 5 in the Middle Kingdom this weekend were re-releases of Sheep Without A Shepherd, Coco and Zootopia.
This was also a notable weekend for IMAX, the second in a row that the large format company crossed $1M in worldwide box office since mid-March. In total, the IMAX global network posted $1.3M, up 30% from last session. This was powered by Dolittle and Bloodshot in China as well as Next Entertainment World’s Peninsula in Korea and other Asian markets.
In China, Dolittle did $535K from 266 IMAX screens, 11% of the nationwide total despite releasing on only 40% of IMAX’s estate in the market. Bloodshot, distributed by Bona in China, did $210K from 228 IMAX screens, about 7% of the nationwide total.
Currently, there are 369 of IMAX’s more than 700 screens open in China. Another 300 screens will resume operations in the coming weeks, with the majority expected to be open by mid-August and in time for Fox/Disney’s Ford V Ferrari and DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s 1917 on August 7, followed by Sony’s Bad Boys For Life and WB’s Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone 3D on August 14. The next IMAX release in China will be a re-issue of WB’s Interstellar on August 2.
IMAX was also among the headliners for the 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival which kicked off on July 25. A range of classic titles including the full Harry Potter series and IMAX exclusive documentaries never-before-seen in Chinese theaters — Pandas and Michael Jordan To The Max — were part of the programming. IMAX reports that all showings sold out in minutes, including more than 2,000 tickets for the Potter pics which took just seconds.
Meanwhile, Korea’s Train To Busan sequel, Peninsula, crossed $20M in that market this session. In IMAX, it added $265K from 51 screens in six markets, pushing the format’s cume to $1M. Korea leads IMAX hubs with a cume of $481K (3rd highest local-language total ever for IMAX there), followed closely by Taiwan with $425K (2nd highest local-language cume). After only 12 days of release, Peninsula is already the highest grossing local-language title ever for IMAX in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. After four days of release, it’s the biggest local-language picture for IMAX in Thailand.
Noted Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX, “From China to South Korean and across our global network, we are seeing that moviegoers are eager to return to theaters where it is safe to do so and we will be ready to support studios, exhibitors and, most importantly, our fans as theaters continue to reopen around the world.”
We’ll have updates from other markets and a full international box office picture early in the week.
PREVIOUS, SATURDAY UPDATE: Overall moviegoing in China saw a nice 61% bump over Friday, to about $4.7M for the day. Of that, Universal’s Dolittle was responsible for an estimated $2M to take the two-day cume on the Robert Downey Jr-starrer to $3.2M. As noted yesterday (see below), only about 40% of cinemas are open in the Middle Kingdom, with showtime and capacity limits as well as ticket discounts, but the progression is encouraging as more Hollywood titles will be coming into the market over the next few frames. As we’ve reported in recent international box office updates, audiences around the world are eager to see fresh titles, be they entirely new like last session’s Peninsula in Korea, or films whose initial releases were quashed by the coronavirus.
In 2nd place again on Saturday in China, Sony/Bona’s Bloodshot did another $1M for an estimated $1.7M cume through two days, per ticketing platform Maoyan. The rest of the Top 5 is made up of Sheep Without A Shepherd (adding $791K on Saturday), followed by re-releases of Disney/Pixar’s Coco (another $257K) and Dis’ Zootopia (+$97K).
Also today, the 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival opened and will run through August 2. The event is taking place both physically and online. Screening tickets were sold out within the first few hours of Monday pre-bookings.
Meanwhile, local reports say that Huaxia Film is offering 4M free movie tickets to medical professionals and new graduates of junior and high schools around China from July 29 to August 31.
Next weekend will see the first China release of Paramount’s Sonic The Hedgehog, joined by Dis/Searchlight’s Jojo Rabbit. There’s a reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar on August 2 (hopefully laying groundwork for Tenet later in the month). Then DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s 1917 bows on August 7 as does Fox/Disney’s Ford V Ferrari. Sony’s Bad Boys For Life goes August 14.
Elsewhere, last weekend’s hit Train To Busan sequel, Peninsula, is approaching $20M in Korea through Saturday, currently at $19.3M per Kobiz.
We’ll have another update on Sunday.
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY 10:26AM PT: On their first Friday back to operations, Chinese cinemas did roughly $2.92M worth of box office business — more than tripling Thursday’s figures and making a sizable jump from Monday when theaters opened to about $501K in low-risk areas across the country. There was growth throughout the midweeks which is encouraging since less than 40% of the market is up and running, with auditorium capacity limited to 30%.
Friday’s spike is largely down to new Hollywood films being released today — each fronted by stars who are immensely popular in the Middle Kingdom. Universal’s Robert Downey Jr-led Dolittle was No. 1 in the market with local data showing $1.2M from about 3,000 screens.
In normal times this would not be a notable start, but given the current situation and that Dolittle’s China release comes more than seven months after the rest of international rollout began, the film is bound to have been subject to piracy. Chinese audiences are showing they want to go back to the movies, regardless. It also helps that Downey Jr posted a video to local fans on Weibo this week.
In 2nd place today was Sony’s Bloodshot with an estimated $735K. The Vin Diesel-starrer is released locally by Bona. Diesel is also normally a big draw in the Middle Kingdom. Rounding out the Top 5 films, local Christmas hit Sheep Without A Shepherd came in at No. 3, followed by re-releases of Disney/Pixar’s Coco and Dis’ Zootopia.
Ever since word came down that cinemas could reopen, China has been busy dating studio titles across the next several weekends, including re-releases and movies that didn’t previously make it to screens due to being sidelined by COVID-19 closures (as with Dolittle and Bloodshot).
Up next weekend is Paramount’s Sonic The Hedgehog on Friday, along with a reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar on Sunday August 2. Then DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s 1917 bows on August 7 and Sony’s Bad Boys For Life goes August 14.
While some cinemas in Beijing also opened today for the first time, in the coastal city of Dalian, a handful of new coronavirus cases spurred the re-closure of cinemas on Thursday, though only a small number had opened this week.
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