Wanda Cinema Set to Acquire Hoyts Group on June 02, 2015


Wanda Cinema continues to extend its presence worldwide. The Chinese exhibitor is set to buy Australia's Hoyts Group, according to a report on Variety. The acquisition would be the second big buy for the Dalian Wanda group, following the 2012 purchase of North American chain AMC Entertainment. The Variety story estimates the sale be above $750 million. 

As a single entity, Wanda Cinema is currently the second largest exhibitor in the world --combining AMC's 4,960 screens with the company's 1,620 (and counting) in China. Hoyts operates around 450 screens worldwide, putting Wanda one step closer to reaching Regal Entertainment's screen count of 7,350, the most of any exhibitor in the world.

China Box Office Weekend Actuals: 'DORAEMON' Sets Animated and Non-Hollywood Foreign Release Records; 'ULTRON' Blasts Into 3rd All-Time; 'TOMORROWLAND' Dead on Arrival on June 01, 2015


Jonathan Papish @ChinaBoxOffice

Stand By Me Doraemon devoured the Chinese box office this weekend like a plate of Yummy Buns (dorayaki), the titular character's favorite snack, and set several records along the way. The 3D animated film from Japan earned an opening weekend gross of $33.47 million and a 4-day total of $38.22 million which smashed the previous record for the highest grossing non-Hollywood imported film held by Russia's Stalingrad in 2013 ($11.75 million). "Blue Fatty", as he's lovingly nicknamed in Mandarin, also now holds the top 3 highest-grossing single days for an animated movie in China (Sat $13.66M, Sun $14.05M, Mon est. $14.36M) previously held by Kung Fu Panda 2's opening day $10.8 million in 2011. In addition, the estimated 5-day total of $52.7 million already puts Doraemon in sixth place on China's top animated films list, well on its way to dethroning Kung Fu Panda 2 ($94.75 total) as China's top toon.

Doraemon's phenomenal success can be attributed to clever marketing and a paying audience keen on revisiting a favorite childhood character. One month before release, Doraemon released several posters emblazoned with the text "Hello China!" over characters dressed in traditional Beijing opera garb, in addition to several that depicted scenes from Chinese classical novels adorned with witty taglines for the film. Rather than blindly pandering to a Chinese audience (like some Hollywood productions), Doraemon's marketing team showed respect for Chinese traditional elements and created something brimming with humor to the Chinese public. Awareness for the film skyrocketed after the posters went public.

The Post-80s generation, a large segment of China's burgeoning consumer class, grew up with Doraemon from his manga television show during the 80s and 90s. While cinema exit polls aren't available to breakdown audience demographics, EntGroup analyzed key words used to describe reactions to Doraemon Stand By Me on Weibo from May 28 to May 30. Trending words included "moving", "emotional", and "tears", which indicate the movie attracted many older audience members swept up by nostalgia for "Blue Fatty". With International Children's Day falling on Monday (primary school aged children are out of school, while many parents take the day off), Doraemon drove moviegoers to the cinema across multiple demographics and ensured its huge opening weekend.

Despite a 65% drop this weekend, Avengers: Age of Ultron secured second place sweeping up $9.84 million. With a 20-day total of $226.74 million, Ultron surpassed Avatar to become the third highest-grossing film of all-time in China. The Disney/Marvel blockbuster was able to retain more screens than expected thanks to the early demise of fellow Disney flick Tomorrowland which crashed on arrival with $8.15 million for third place. After opening last Tuesday on nearly a third of China's screens, Brad Bird's global flop has eked out only $14.09 million from Chinese moviegoers and played on just 12% of screens on Sunday.

In fourth place, PK enjoyed another solid weekend, dropping just 28% for $3.72 million. The highest grossing Indian film ever in China is up to $12.04 million after 10 days. Its recent triumph coupled with Doraemon's domination bodes well for foreign film industries outside Hollywood finding success in China in the coming years.

Rounding out the top 5, I, Frankenstein earned $3.22 million for a 6-day total of $6.33 million. China isn't coming to the rescue for the Lionsgate flop which has now grossed about $77 million worldwide on a reported $90 million budget.

The rest of the top ten can be found below with data from China's EntGroup.





Entire 'Star Wars' Saga Will Screen at Shanghai International Film Festival in June on May 25, 2015


Jonathan Papish @ChinaBoxOffice

Walt Disney Pictures and the 18th Shanghai International Film Festival announced on Monday that the all 6 episodes of the Star Wars saga will screen during the film festival which runs from June 13 to June 21. This is the first time Episodes 4-6 have been shown on the big screen in China. 

Disney is clearly hoping to generate as much exposure and buzz as possible for Star Wars in China ahead of The Force Awakens release later this year. Episodes 1-3 were released theatrically in China to the tune of a modest $20 million combined, but that was years before China's box office took off and years before Hollywood started seeing the dollar signs associated with China's growing middle class.

Episode 7 doesn't have a China release date yet, and while a day-and-date global release on December 18 is a possibility, it's more than likely the film won't be released until January or February to protect the 50/50 split between year-end imported and foreign box office totals that the government unofficially tries to maintain. As an example, all three Hobbit films (which grossed a combined $250M in China) were given late January or early February release dates, pushed back from their December NA releases. 

We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, check out our coverage of The Force Awakens trailer premiere in China and 愿原力与你同在 - yuàn yuán lì yǔ nǐ tóng zài (May The Force Be With You).

China Box Office Weekend Actuals: 'Ultron' Hits $210M to Become 4th Highest Grossing Film of All-Time in China; Bollywood's 'PK' Surprises With Strong Debut on May 25, 2015


Jonathan Papish @ChinaBoxOffice

Avengers: Age of Ultron once again claimed the box office title this weekend in China with $27.75M and leaped past three domestic pics on the top ten list of all-time highest grossing films. Ultron is now #4 with a 13-day total of $209.39M, behind Avatar ($216M), Transformers: Age of Extinction ($319M), and Furious 7 ($390.5M).

With three years of breakneck growth from the Chinese box office since the original Avengers grossed $91.36M in 2012, and a solid Marvel fan base thanks to Disney China's strong marketing, expectations for Ultron to smash box office records were sky high especially after Furious 7's record breaking run in April. Yet despite more than doubling the original's total haul, Ultron appears to be running out of gas after a steep 68% drop this weekend and will have to settle for third on the all-time list.

Word of mouth seems to have affected Ultron's legs, as rankings on Douban, Weibo, and Mtime are all a point or more below Furious 7 which dominated the box office for much of its month-long run.  Tomorrowland and I, Frankenstein, both opening on Tuesday, and Stand By Me Doraemon, opening on Thursday, will all steal screens from Ultron and further weaken its staying power next weekend. 

PK, Bollywood's highest grossing film of all-time worldwide, took second place with an impressive $5.13 million. On only its second day of release, PK surpassed Dhoom 3 as the top grossing Indian film ever to open in China, and strong word of mouth continued through the weekend, pushing the film's screening rate from 13% to 16% which further eroded Ultron's supremacy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last week in China to discuss deepening cultural ties between their two nations so Chinese audiences can expect to see more Bollywood films in the future.

Date night flick Love Without Distance (土豪520) took advantage of its May 20th release date (a homophone for "I love you" in Mandarin) and embraced $2.66M for a four-day total of $3.55M. Chappie held decently in its third weekend, dropping 18% to claim $1.17M for a total of $16.38M. Rounding out the top 5, animated newcomer Alibaba and The Thief (阿里巴巴大盗奇兵) opened with $1.05M for a $2.3M cume after 2 weeks of advanced screenings. 

The rest of this weekend's top ten can be found below with data from China's EntGroup.


China Box Office Weekend Actuals: 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Steamrolls Competition on 1st Weekend of Release; Grabs $85M For 2nd Highest-Grossing Weekend of All-Time on May 18, 2015


Jonathan Papish @ChinaBoxOffice

Avengers: Age of Ultron dominated the Chinese box office in its first weekend of release, scoring 92% of the market for a hefty $84.81 million. That helps bring the Disney/Marvel blockbuster's 6-day total to $154.09 million which is already good enough for the final spot on China's top ten highest-grossing films of all time and the 5th highest-grossing imported film ever behind Furious 7 ($391M), Transformers: Age of Extinction ($319M), Avatar ($216M), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($173M). Ultron Hulk-smashed the first Avengers' total of $91.4 million from 2012 in just five days, easily becoming China's top grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. China's IMAX screens also took in a record-setting $17.5 million this weekend (previous best was Transformers: Age of Extinction's $9.75 million).

The rest of the top ten only accounted for 8% of the weekend box office. In a distant second was last weekend's champ, Chappie which eked out $1.43 million on 5% of China's screens. Its 10-day cume is up to $13.72 million. Close behind in third place was romantic newcomer The Beloved with $1.39 million. DreamWorks Animation's Home brought in $1.07 million for a 24-day total of $26.73 million to take fourth place, and rounding out the top 5 was Silent Separation, just breaking the million dollar mark for a $55.29 million 18-day cume. 

The rest of the top ten can be found below with data from China's EntGroup.



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