It took 58 days, but China’s local summer blockbuster, Monster Hunt, has now overtaken Universal’s Furious 7 to become the highest-grossing film ever at the Middle Kingdom box office. Furious 7‘s milestone was set with a run that lasted only 30 days. State news agency Xinhua, citing industry watchdog SAPPRFT, today says Monster Hunt‘s total sales as of yesterday exceeded 2.428B yuan. Furious 7‘s local currency haul was 2.426B yuan. In today’s dollars, Monster Hunt‘s take is $380.99M versus what would have been $380.67M for Furious 7. That’s reflective of market fluctuations over the past few months: when F7 ended its China run in mid-May, the conversion from the yuan came to $391.2M.
Furious 7 was released in the Middle Kingdom on April 12 and had, within two weeks, bested the previous all-time record holder Transformers: Age Of Extinction. That film had outperformed Avatar in 2014 to hold the title for a little less than a year. Monster Hunt is now the first Chinese film crowned box office champ in the 21 years since the market re-opened to foreign films.
Hailing from legendary producer Bill Kong and Shrek franchise veteran helmer Raman Hui, Monster Hunt‘s latest record is impressive — it became the top-grossing Chinese movie ever in July. The CGI/live-action adventure pic is set in an ancient and magical world where the story centers on the race to protect a baby monster who is the subject of great envy. FilmRise is releasing in the U.S. in early 2016.
There are a couple of things worth noting, however. Monster Hunt opened during the unofficial summer blackout period where there is no competition from Hollywood movies which are sidelined to help boost local market share. When Hollywood movies do play in the market, they are, in all but rare cases, allotted a 30-day run. Monster Hunt has been on release since July 16 and still has five more days to go before leaving cinemas on September 17. That’s the same day that Korea’s No. 1 film of 2015, Assassination, enters the market.
The first two Hollywood films allowed back into the Middle Kingdom post-blackout were Paramount/Skydance’s Terminator: Genisys (approx $112M after 20 days) and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (approx $53M in 4). Up next is Universal’s Minions which bows tomorrow. After that, Sony’s Pixels releases on September 15. The close proximity of dates suggests China is keener than ever to maintain a gap between local and Hollywood market share.
Xinhua earlier this week reported that China’s 2015 box office had already exceeded the 2014 total of 29.6B yuan ($4.6B). Chinese movies were worth 60% of the total.