Martial artist Wu Jing's action/war film Wolf Warriors came out of the gate strong, opening on Thursday with $5.98 million, while Let's Get Married, the film widely thought to have broader appeal this week thanks to a star studded cast and an excellent fan base from the television show it was based on, opened in second with $4.38 million. This led to some early speculation that SARFT (State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television) had ordered cinemas to give priority to the nationalistic war film and even to fill seats with PLA soldiers. However, Warriors continued to pull away from Married as the weekend went on thanks to great word of mouth, heavy attendance in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tier cities, and a relentless publicity push by director and star Wu Jing on Saturday and Sunday. Wolf Warriors ended the weekend with $33.32 million, while Let's Get Married faltered amid weak reviews calling the film "cliched" and "vapid", managing only $22.33 million. Kingsman: The Secret Service held well in its second weekend, dropping 34% to take in $16.51 million for a $56.49 million cume. See below for the complete top ten with data from China's EntGroup.
Records continue to fall as China's red hot box office grossed $1.54 billion in the first quarter of 2015, a 41% increase over the same period in 2014 and the best start to a year in Chinese box office history. Seventy films were released from January to March and twenty three passed the 100 million RMB mark ($16.13M). Also of significance, imported films only accounted for 34% of the total box office for the quarter which is the lowest percentage in years. However looking ahead to the rest of the year, that proportion should change because Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, a particularly popular period for domestic draws, occurred in the first quarter, and also because Hollywood is just about to enter its blockbuster season.
Top 10 Q1 Chinese Films
1. The Man From Macau 2 / $156.94M
2. Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies / $123.55M
3. Dragon Blade / $119.8M
4. Wolf Totem / $112.19M
5. Big Hero 6 / $84.80M
6. Running Man / $69.99M
7. The Taking of Tiger Mountain / $68.91M
8. Cinderella / $68.18M
9. Zhongkui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal / $65.87M
10. Miss Granny / $58.95M
Things heat up for the three-day Tomb Sweeping Holiday as the romantic Let’s Get Married (咱们结婚吧) and the adrenaline fueled Wolf Warriors (战狼）square off in a box office showdown. Both films match up well in awareness and intent to purchase according to EntGroup’s EFMT Marketing Index.
Strongly marketed towards the Post-’80/Post-’90 female demographic, Let’s Get Married stars Gao Yuanyuan (高圆圆) and Jiang Wu (姜武) in the lead up to their wedding day. Gao was featured in the massively popular 2013 television show of the same name, but Jiang has replaced lead actor Huang Haibo (黄海波) after a prostitution scandal. The TV show has been watched nearly 4.3 billion times according to EntGroup’s Online Viewership Tracker so the franchise has a solid fan base already. However, returning director Liu Jiang (刘江) promises a standalone story so both diehard fans of the tv show and new viewers alike can enjoy the film.
Prowling into theaters on the same day, Wolf Warriors is an action film geared towards the corresponding male demographic. In his second directorial effort, martial artist Jacky Wu (吴京) also stars as a disgraced army commando expelled from his squadron who is then admitted into a mysterious special force known as the “Wolf Warriors”. British martial artist Scott Adkins from The Expendables 2 also makes an appearance and should bring in Chinese fanboys obsessed with that American action series.
Other films coming out this holiday weekend include Insanity, a psychological thriller which is garnering buzz for Sean Lau’s acting, Midnight Garage, a horror film based on a Hong Kong urban legend about a haunted parking garage, and Outcast starring Nicolas Cage which was held over from October.
Aside from Let’s Get Married and Wolf Warriors duking it out for the top spot, look for a strong hold from this weekend’s #1, Kingsman, and perhaps another good showing for Cinderella going into its fourth week of release.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (王牌特工: 特工学院) dominated China's box office this weekend as predicted, grabbing $24.29M including Thursday midnight screenings. The opening is on par with Cinderella's (灰姑娘) from 2 weekends ago. The Disney fantasy dropped to third place last weekend thanks to a strong debut from domestic pic Lost and Love (失孤), but jumped back into the second spot this weekend. Cinderella has now mopped up $66.47M in 17 days of release in China. See below for the rest of the Top Ten with numbers from ChinaBoxOffice.
Kingsman: The Secret Service won Friday's box office handily, grossing $5.58m behind a strong publicity push that brought Colin Firth to Beijing to meet his fans. The action film appeared on 30% of China's screens and took in nearly 50% of Friday's total ticket sales. Following in a distant second, Andy Lau's Lost and Love scored $1.46m to total $28.1m in 8 days of release. Cinderella continued its third week in magical form taking bronze and beating out Tak3n. The Magic Kingdom's fantasy has now made $58.5m in the Middle Kingdom.