SUNDAY UPDATE: China has a bona fide blockbuster on its hands with The Eight Hundred. The war epic had already performed incredibly well during its five days of previews, and this weekend increased daily to add an estimated $83M from the official Friday/Saturday/Sunday opening frame. According to Maoyan estimates, the total cume is now RMB 805.6M ($116.6M). This gives the film status as the biggest opener of the year at the international box office for the FSS session, and, when including previews and the first three-day frame, makes it the top worldwide launch of 2020. This is despite capacity restrictions in the Middle Kingdom amid the ongoing reopening process.
This is also the biggest global box office weekend for IMAX since January when China initially closed its cinemas amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The first Chinese movie shot entirely with IMAX digital cameras, The Eight Hundred grossed an estimated $6.7M from 637 local IMAX screens this weekend, including the earlier previews. IMAX screens recorded over 550 sell-out shows in the first two days of previews alone and the session’s total IMAX gross is 6.3% of the overall box office, higher than the norm for a local title and despite IMAX screens representing only 1% of all those playing the movie in the market. The full global IMAX weekend was $7.5M to double that of last session.
A once troubled film, The Eight Hundred was initially yanked from its 2019 release. But the movie has given new hope in the COVID era, confirming what we’ve seen elsewhere during the reopening process, that moviegoers are hungry for new product. Its critic/audience scores have shifted slightly since previews began on August 14, but it has become an event — just as spectacle re-releases have moved the needle and local titles in other markets have been robust. In places where it feels safe to do so, people are returning to the cinemas.
Looking at the three-day, The Eight Hundred added an estimated $33M on Sunday, an 11% increase on Saturday. The full day’s takings from all films was RMB 256M ($37M), again scoring the biggest day gross in the new norm. The Eight Hundred is predicted to leg out nicely, but does have some competition ahead in the form of local Valentine’s Day pic Love You Forever and the Inception 10th anniversary release which will lead into Tenet on September 4. IMAX will have the film on its digital, laser and 70mm screens across much of the international marketplace beginning this week.
In other China play, Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone 3D added $4.1M during its second weekend and on 5,893 screens. It ranked No. 2 behind The Eight Hundred. The running local cume for this version is now $23.3M.
Elsewhere, STX’s Greenland notably released in Russia with a No. 1 start of $394K from 488 locations. That’s on par with Angel Has Fallen and 67% above London Has Fallen. Some regions in the market are still in lockdown or have limited capacities. The full weekend total overseas was $2.2M for an international cume of $7.8M. Holds were strong in France (-35%/$3.45M cume), Taiwan (-34%/ $1.97M) and Scandinavia where favorable weather provided a boost. Sweden went up 82% for a $321K cume, Denmark jumped 44% for $253K and Norway increased 24% for $258K to date.
From Warner Bros, Scoob! added $1.2M in 18 markets to lift the cume to $15.4M, and the Inception 10-year anniversary release took another $850K in 36 offshore markets. The cume is now $3.5M on the reissue.
Further market updates to come.
PREVIOUS, SATURDAY UPDATE: More strong news out of China as The Eight Hundred rises to $83M through Saturday. That includes its first official Friday and Saturday, as well as five days of previews that began last Friday and ran during the midweeks. Today, the war epic did RMB 202.7 ($29.3M), according to Maoyan estimates. That’s a 45% increase on Friday. The film from Guan Hu should get to $100M through tomorrow.
Maoyan is now predicting a $286M finish for The Eight Hundred, though there are newcomers next weekend that include Love You Forever which bows on Chinese Valentine’s Day August 25, and the 10th anniversary re-release of Christopher Nolan’s Inception on August 28 — a week before Tenet hits the Middle Kingdom on September 4.
The full-day estimate for all films on Saturday is RMB 230.8M ($33.4M), by far the biggest single-day of the reopening process. And this is still with capacity limitations in place.
In other China play, Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone added an estimated $1.7M on Saturday and has now grossed $22M in its 4K 3D restoration after winning last weekend.
Disney/Pixar’s Onward is also new to the market at an estimated RMB 11.9M ($1.7M) through Saturday. It’s carrying a strong 9.1 score on Maoyan (7.7 on Douban), and was in 3rd place both Friday and Saturday with a 122% increase today over yesterday.
We’ll have a full international box office update on Sunday.
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY: After pulling in $33.5M across five days of previews at the Chinese box office, local war epic The Eight Hundred overwhelmingly stormed theaters today, its first official day of release. Adding roughly $20M across the country on Friday — the biggest single-day box office since cinemas resumed operations — the Middle Kingdom cume is now estimated at north of $53M. It had already become the highest-grossing release of the year locally and, worldwide, is the biggest title since the reopening process began.
The movie is the first Chinese film fully shot with IMAX cameras and is playing on more than 600 IMAX screens in the market — it’s estimated that today’s take in IMAX was about 8% of the total which is above the norm for a Chinese film. It is expected to see an overall three-day frame upwards of $60M which would put it in the $100M ballpark through Sunday. It currently leads presales for most of next week, according to Maoyan (new entries next weekend include local pic Love You Forever and the 10th anniversary re-release of Inception). Maoyan (where it has a 9.2 score) is currently forecasting a $240M final cume on The Eight Hundred, though we’ve also heard lower at around $217M.
From director Guan Hu, the 1937-set story of Chinese soldiers defending a warehouse against the invading Japanese army during the Battle of Shanghai set new single-day records earlier this week and today helped propel the overall Chinese box office to about $22M (RMB 152.7M), the highest so far in the post-COVID era.
A controversial title, it was originally scheduled to debut at the Shanghai Film Festival in 2019, but was abruptly yanked and never made its summer release date last year. No official reasons were given, but it’s believed that the movie was sending a political message that was not acceptable to key members of the Chinese military regarding revolutionary history. Some edits were subsequently made.
Backers include Huayi Brothers, Alibaba Pictures and Tencent Pictures. CMC Pictures in North America, Australia and New Zealand beginning August 28.
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