Chinese moviegoers ushered in the Year of the Ox with the colossal three-day debut of Detective Chinatown 3 grossing an estimated RMB 2.57B ($398M). This tops Avengers: Endgame’s 2019 five-day China bow of RMB 2.22B to make DC3 not only the biggest opener in Chinese history, but also giving it bragging rights to the biggest opening weekend ever in a single market — overtaking Endgame’s North American launch of $357M from April 2019.
DC3 also set new IMAX records. From Wanda Pictures, the Chen Sicheng-directed buddy comedy was entirety shot with IMAX Certified Cameras and grossed RMB 152M ($23.5M) in the format in China this session, making it the best IMAX opening weekend ever for a Chinese movie. It is also the top FSS run of admissions ever for IMAX in China, with 2.1M tickets sold versus Endgame’s 1.94M. Cumulatively, IMAX saw three CNY movies bring in an estimated $25M. That includes the DC3 haul, as well as $1M from Alibaba’s New Gods: Nezha Reborn and A Writer’s Odyssey at $500K. CNY 2021 for IMAX is up 45% over the 2019 record during the similar period.
DC3 had already on Friday set a new record for opening-day gross in a single market, as well as a new IMAX benchmark. It then powered through the weekend, although its social and critical scores faltered, dropping to 5.8 on Douban and 8.7 on Maoyan (the latter after an initial Friday at 9.4). Maoyan is now predicting a finish of RMB 4.84B ($750M). On its heels, and taking its own share of glory this weekend, is comer Hi Mom, a time travel comedy that picked up speed over the frame, ultimately taking an estimated RMB 1.04B ($161M) after seeing daily increases. It’s got a 9.5 audience score and 8.3 from critics with Maoyan projecting an ultimate RMB 4.52B ($700M). The movie is currently in the lead on Monday local time.
After missing out on the Lunar New Year period in 2020 as Covid clamped the market shut, China has bounded back. Since cinemas reopened in July last year, there have been several significant local performances which helped push the Middle Kingdom to become the No. 1 box office market worldwide in 2020.
In total this weekend, Chinese box office across all titles was a Maoyan-estimated RMB 4.5B ($697M), or 32% of the North American 2020 total and 6% of the global total box office in 2020. While it remains unclear as to when Hollywood can again look forward to these kinds of figures for studio movies, it’s a good sign that cinema-going thrives when audiences feel safe and new product is available. Executives we’ve spoken to in Los Angeles today are seeing the China numbers as a good omen. IE: China reduced capacity for the New Year period in some areas and still did these crazy numbers, and the current turnout is a hopeful indicator for movies from Hollywood that have resonance in the market; think: Black Widow, Fast 9, Mission: Impossible 7, but also in the rest of the world.
In other new play, Sony Pictures International Productions scored a No. 1 Russia start with Rodnye (The Relatives). The comedy/drama grossed $2.2M from 1,800+ screens. From director Ilya Aksenov, the film is about a man who takes his family on a road trip to a Russian folk music festival in order to fulfill his life-long dream of performing his own song.
Warner Bros got an early jump on Tom & Jerry in seven Asian and Middle East markets, scurrying to $1.45M from 445 screens. Singapore led with $457K on 49, ranking No. 2 and coming in 64% over Sonic The Hedgehog, 117% over Soul, 97% ahead of Croods 2, 255% ahead of Trolls World Tour and 828% above Scoob! Mexico and Brazil notably open next weekend.
Elsewhere, Disney/Pixar’s Soul is still doing jazzy offshore business with $104M to date. That includes $14M in Russia which makes the Pete Docter title the 2nd biggest Pixar movie ever in the market as it looks to overtake Inside Out this week. In Korea, Soul has grossed $13.3M and stayed atop the chart again, with a 20% jump from last session. The full weekend in seven markets was good for $4.3M.
In Japan, Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train slipped to No. 3, but dropped just 13% from last session and has now cumed an estimated 37.5B yen ($361M). Globally, it’s expected to top $400M this week. Another local pic, I Fell In Love Like A Flower Bouquet, held No. 1 again in Japan followed by the latest Detective Conan entry. WB’s local title Subarashiki Sekai opened at No. 4 with $1.2M on 204 screens.
Also from WB, The Little Things added $727K in 27 markets for an offshore cume of $6.4M and $17M global. Australia, Spain, Mexico and Brazil are on deck in the coming weeks. Wonder Woman 1984’s updated cumes are $115.2M overseas and $157M worldwide.
DreamWorks Animation/Universal’s The Croods: A New Age crossed $150M global in the session, adding $445K from 17 international box office markets for an overseas cume of $102.5M.