China’s box office is primed for a sparkling Lunar New Year frame as new titles start rollout on Friday. As we noted this past Sunday, pre-sales had already begun to pop, with threequel Detective Chinatown 3 in the lead. The film from Chen Sicheng as of 11:30PM local time on Thursday had hit over RMB 673M ($104M) in advance tickets for opening day Friday and more than RMB 950M ($147M) for the first week, according to Maoyan.
Those figures exceed the advance sales performance of Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame which itself was a record-breaker in April 2019. Endgame debuted on a Wednesday in China and its ultimate day-one gross, including midnights, was RMB 725M ($107.8M at historical rates/$112.3M today) — the biggest opening day ever in the market. Stripping out the midnights on Endgame, its first day was RMB 538M. For reference, Monster Hunt 2 kicked off the Lunar New Year on a Friday in 2018 with a then-record RMB 547M.
'Tom & Jerry' Pounces On $33M WW Weekend In Expanded Rollout; China's New Year Pics Still Dominant As February Sets $1.9B Record - International Box Office
Estimates on the buddy comedy DC3 are well over $300M for opening weekend, and despite 50% seating capacity restrictions that go into force in Beijing during the Lunar New Year stretch (aka Spring Festival). One word of caution on New Year titles: we’ve seen them blast off on day one and then be supplanted by other films once word of mouth gets going. There are no social or critical scores on DC3 as yet, but anticipation has been growing exponentially since it was first due to release for Spring Festival 2020.
China has gone from strength to strength since reopening its theaters in July and seen significant performances for homegrown titles. The Lunar New Year period is one of the most lucrative on the calendar and given the numbers we are seeing for the coming week, it’s further encouragement that folks will return to cinemas once they feel it’s safe and when new product is available. It’s also a nice turnaround from this time last year when China was in total lockdown and had to scrap the New Year session.
Detective Chinatown 3 was among the movies originally scheduled during last year’s New Year frame. It is the third in Chen’s series with the first two films doing a combined $667M in China alone. This installment moves the action to Tokyo after 2018’s Detective Chinatown 2 was partially shot in New York. In the current film, detectives Tang Ren (Wang Baoqiang) and Qin Feng (Liu Haoran) head to Tokyo to join Japanese investigator Noda Hiroshi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) on a high-profile case involving the murder of a powerful businessman. But they’re not the only ones taking on the challenge. The main cast further includes Tony Jaa, Masami Nagasawa, Shota Sometami and Tadanobu Asano.
The other films opening this weekend include time travel comedy Hi Mom, fantasy thriller A Writer’s Odyssey (formerly Assassin In Red), mobile game adaptation The Yin Yang Master, comedy/drama Endgame, the animated New Gods: Nezha Reborn and family franchise entry Boonie Bears: The Wild Life.
As of just after midnight China time on Friday, box office for all films on the day is already at RMB 1.06B ($164M). We’ll keep tabs on China box office throughout the weekend.
See below for the Detective Chinatown 3 trailer:
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.