By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
For the rest of 2014, the Chinese box office will be dominated by Gone with the Bullets, a much-anticipated new 3D effort from director Jiang Wen that some are predicting could outgross Transformers: Age of Extinction to become China's #1 theatrical earner.
Gone with the Bullets, which is set in 1920s Shanghai, has already racked up more than $32 million (RMB 200 million) in online presales on Wechat, iQiyi, Gewara and other platforms--a very impressive figure that bodes well for the December 18th debut.
The film encountered censorship problems which delayed a premiere that was set for December 8th. Instead, Gone with the Bullets premiered on Monday, December 14th in IMAX at the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. It's clear that the censorship issues have not hindered GWTB's commercial potential.
Gone with the Bullets is the first Chinese-produced title to film with IMAX camera and it will open at a record-setting 185 IMAX screenings. Grosses should be robust on the specialty format.
"IMAX has been working with director/star Jiang Wen on Gone with the Bullets for over a year and couldn't be happier with how this blockbuster title has turned out," says Greg Foster, CEO of IMAX Entertainment. "We're excited that Director Wen has used our IMAX 3D Digital Cameras and we look forward to a successful run in China and to our continued collaboration with the movie community in this important region."
Only two other Chinese films will open this week: Coincidence and Shanghai Noir. Nothing new from Hollywood will hit theaters until Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian debuts on January 4th.
Penguins of Madagascar capped off its final weekend in China with a $2.9 million haul from 3,103 screens. The animated film finished its theatrical run in China with a total of $40.5 million. The market cume is 129% above the total of Madagascar 3 in China.
Interstellar finished its 31-day run in China with a $780k haul in its final weekend. China is the biggest overseas market for Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic, bringing in a total of $122.8 million of its $455 million overseas cume.
Fleet of Time, a coming-of-age story focused on a group of friends growing up in the 1990s and 2000s, finished ahead of legendary director John Woo's epic The Crossing - Part 1 at the Chinese box office last week. Fleet of Time took in $36.4 million in three days compared to The Crossing - Part 1's $18.6 million in six days, according to EntGroup.
Women Who Flirt, a homegrown romantic comedy, dropped to third place with $13.7 million and is now up to a solid $27.1 million.
American films occupied the fourth and fifth spots. Interstellar finished in fourth with $9.8 million, pushing its cume in China to an impressive $118.8 million. Penguins of Madagascar ranked fifth with $4.3 million, giving it a total of $37 million after 24 days of release.
Sunday, 12/7 Update: Interstellar is now up to $119.2 million in China after adding another $7.15 million over the weekend.
The sci-fi flick boasts the following accomplishments:
#1 WB All-Time Highest Grossing Film
#1 MPA All-Time Highest Grossing 2D Film
#2 Highest Grossing MPA Film in 2014 after Transformers: Age of Extinction
#6 All-Time Highest Grossing MPA Film
Sunday, 11/30 Update: Interstellar became the highest grossing MPA 2D title in China this weekend. Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic maintained the #1 spot for a third consecutive week with an $18.1 million haul from 3,694 screens. China is Interstellar's biggest overseas market with $106 million, more than a quarter of the film's $395.2 million take outside of North America.