Schools and businesses took off Monday in China for the annual Tomb Sweeping Holiday (清明节) and filmgoers flocked to cinemas across the country.
Wolf Warriors (战狼) continued its strong run tallying $7.91 million for a 5-day total of $41.25 million. The war flick is performing particularly well in smaller cities in China, so called 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tier cities, which is a good sign for China's developing film industry. Traditionally, films have relied on 1st tier cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, where wealthier residents and higher ticket prices have driven box office success. We can expect film studios to increase marketing and push publicity into these smaller cities as they continue to discover their full, untapped potential.
Second place went to Kingsman: The Secret Service with $5.28 million raising its cume to $61.30 million. The film had dropped to 3rd over the weekend, but positive reviews are bringing in the crowds.
Let's Get Married (咱们结婚吧), a romantic comedy loosely tying together four stories about single women searching for Mr. Right, came in 3rd with $5.27 million. The poorly reviewed film has grossed a respectable $28.58 million in 5 days, but expect that number to level off as cinemas drop screenings and give priority to Wolf Warriors and Kingsman throughout the week.
This year's holiday (Saturday-Monday) brought in $81.06 million, and while last year's Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($38.91 million) beat out Wolf Warriors ($28.41 million), total box office sales for this year's Tomb Sweeping Holiday were 39% higher than 2014.
The weekend also saw China's box office surpass the 10 billion RMB ($1.61 billion) mark, taking just 95 days which is the quickest in its history. To put that into perspective, China's entire box office haul for the year of 2010 was 10 billion RMB. The impressive start to this year can be attributed to a huge expansion of cinema construction (325 total new theaters in Q1 2015), and the rise in popularity of cheap, yet convenient and fast online ticketing outlets.
By EntGroup Consulting and Phil Contrino
As of Sunday, Furious 7 has already earned a staggering $391.6 million globally. The film's launch in China this week will boost that sum by a huge margin.
Furious 7 should have no problem raking in more than $125 million during its entire theatrical run in China, which means it will outgross the previous two installments combined. Fast Five earned $38.8 million in 2011 and Fast & Furious 6 tallied $67 million in 2013. A recent publicity appearance from Vin Diesel helped boost enthusiasm that was already quite high. According to EntGroup's EFMT Marketing Index, Furious 7 boasts very strong awareness, intent to purchase and word of mouth levels.
Globally, Furious 7 is definitely on pace to become the next member of the $1 billion global club. The last film to hit that mark was 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction. 2015 boasts a lot of potential $1 billion films: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Minions, Spectre and Star Wars: Age of Ultron all could reach that mark.
Wolf Warriors, the current #1 film in China, should hold up well even though Furious 7 is bound to steal a lot of attention away. The war flick has earned a solid $33 million so far.
The only other new title opening this week is Kung Fu Style, a homegrown animated flick. According to EntGroup's EFMT Marketing Index, the film's awareness and intent to purchase levels are very low.
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.