Sunday, 3/9/15 Update: WB now reports that Jupiter Ascending is up to $20.3 million since opening on March 5.
Sunday, 3/8/15 Update: Jupiter Ascending is finding its footing in China on the heels of a North American run that has been filled with snarky reactions from critics and paying movigoers alike as well as underwhelming box office returns. Sources report that Jupiter Ascending has raked in $16.2 million since opening on March 5. It's very possible that Jupiter's Chinese haul could pass North America's, which is currently at around $45 million and winding down quickly.
Other updated cumes from China: Big Hero 6 $36.8 million, The Man from Macau 2 $138.4 million, Paddington--which also opened on March 5--$5.17 million.
Big Hero 6 enjoyed a big opening weekend in China. The film's $14.8 million haul accounts for the biggest opening weekend of all time for a Disney Animation release in the market. The Chinese debut also helped the film cross the $350 million mark overseas. Big Hero 6 has now grossed $351.3 million outside of North America and $572.1 million worldwide.
2/24 Update: EntGroup reports the following 4-day hauls for films that opened in China last week on February 19--the first day of Chinese New Year celebrations.
Dragon Blade: $54.84 million
The Man from Macau 2: $43.1 million
Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal: $31.20 million
Wolf Totem: $24.81 million ($32.33 million cume thanks to preview shows)
Where Are We Going, Dad? 2: $20.65 million
Triumph in the Skies: $12.68 million
Emperor's Holidays: $8.95 million
2/20 Update: Sources report that Dragon Blade, a new film starring Jackie Chan and John Cusack, opened to an impressive $19 million on Thursday, China's New Year's Day. The Man from Macau 2 debuted with $10.3 million. Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal was expected to rule this holiday frame, but it finished in third with $10.2 million. Where are We Going, Dad? 2, a spinoff of a popularity show, opened in fourth place with $7.4 million. In fifth, Wolf Totem snagged $5.2 million.
For a summary of what this week's new releases are about, listen to our interview with China Lion's Wayne Lin below.
By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal is the favorite lead the Chinese market as seven new titles look to capitalize on the lucrative Lunar New Year holiday that begins on February 19. Two sequels--Where Are We Going, Dad? 2 and The Man from Macau 2--will try to follow up on the success their predecessors delivered during the same holiday frame in 2014.
China Lion's Wayne Lin provides a summary of this week's releases in the audio file below:
Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal is a 3D action flick about a famous Chinese mythological character who does battle in heaven, hell and on Earth. (Think Hercules.) The highly-anticipated effort from director Zhao Tianyu (2011's The Law of Attraction) boasts star power from Chen Kun (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon) and Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction). Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal will have big shoes to fill when it comes to leading the box office during the Lunar New Year: 2014's The Monkey King earned $102.5 million during the same week last year.
Where are We Going, Dad? 2 and The Man from Macau 2 will test how receptive Chinese audiences are to homegrown sequels. (For what it's worth, there's certainly no problem embracing Hollywood's sequels.) Where are We Going, Dad? 2 should perform better than The Man from Macau 2, because the first installment of the reality-show inspired flick earned a healthy $112 million compared to $85 million for The Man from Macau.
Wolf Totem, a co-production between China and France, is an adaptation of a popular semi-autobiographical Chinese novel from 2004 that focuses about a Chinese student who travels to Inner Mongolia and discovers that the wolf population is being threatened by the government. Wolf Totem comes from French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, who also directed Seven Years in Tibet. The film will receive an IMAX release.
Legend of Rabbit, a new local animated flick, will try to match the recent success of Boonie Bears: Mystical Winter, which recently hit $40 million. If Legend of Rabbit succeeds, it could indicate a surge in attention paid to China's animation industry. Hollywood's efforts continue to dominate that genre.
Also opening: action flick Dragon Blade and family comedy Emperor's Holiday.
By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
Out of the six titles opening in China this week, homegrown romance Somewhere Only We Know (trailer below) and India's Happy New Year pose the biggest threats to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the current #1 film.
The creative team behind Somewhere Only We Know is beloved in China. Director Xu Jinglei achieved popularity as an actress, and her fans are expected to follow as she steps behind the camera. The romantic drama's script is from commercially successful writer Wang Shuo (Personal Tailor), who has a reputation for capturing the mood of the generation born after the Cultural Revolution. Star Wu Yifan, former leader of the South Korean pop group EXO, brings plenty of drawing power with him. Lu Han, another member of EXO, recently found box office success with Miss Granny, a $57 million hit. Two other homegrown romances--Comrades: Almost a Love Story and To Be Together--open this week, but neither one looks as strong as Somewhere Only We Know. The comedy Lucky Star 2015 is also aimed at the same crowds that will flock to Somewhere Only We Know.
With success around the globe already achieved, Happy New Year, the latest film from Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan, is getting an ambitious release in China this week. Happy New Year will open on 5,000 screens in the Middle Kingdom. This release could be groundbreaking for the China-India dynamic. Currently, Dhoom 3 ranks as the highest-grossing Indian film in China with just $3.2 million. Happy New Year should have no problem breezing past that modest sum. If Happy New Year posts strong numbers, more Indian films could find their way to China.
James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D also opens this week. Cameron's popularity in China--Avatar was the #1 film of all time before Transformers: Age of Extinction came along--will lead to some fans showing up, but this documentary isn't designed to become a massive commercial hit. Deepsea earned only $235,659 during its North American theatrical run.