By Jonathan Papish, Phil Contrino, and EntGroup Consulting
Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron will have no problem holding the #1 spot at the Chinese box office this week. The action flick is poised to fend off five newcomers.
With $155 million and counting from its Chinese run, Avengers is already a huge success. While the superhero flick won't top the recent record of $390.5 million set by Furious 7, we see it ending its run in the $250-$275 million range. This is the final weekend Ultron has little competition as another Disney summer blockbuster Tomorrowland opens Tuesday, May 26. Globally, Ultron is up to $1.15 billion with its eyes on the $1.51 billion haul of 2012's Marvel's The Avengers.
Four homegrown titles will try to steal away attention from Age of Ultron: Alibaba and the Thief (阿里巴巴大盗奇兵) , Unforgettable Blast (迷于狂), Feed Me (哺乳期的女人) and Love Without Distance (土豪520). All four titles are aimed at different demographics. Alibaba is an animated flick for kids, Unforgettable Blast is for twentysomethings, Feed Me is for arthouse film enthusiasts and Love Without Distance is for adult crowds.
Alibaba has already earned nearly $600K from advance screenings, so if buzz is strong it could end up connecting with families who have children that are too young for Ultron. Love Without Distance comes with name recognition courtesy of Francis Ng (his third film released in six weeks), Ma Tainyu and Zhou Weitong, which means it could turn into a modest hit. Unforgettable Blast is already battling negative buzz. As for Feed Me, it could find a niche among viewers who crave something other than a blockbuster.
One other imported film is entering theaters this week, India's P.K. (我的个神啊). The highest grossing Indian movie of all time will try to reverse the trend of Bollywood cinema not catching on in China. Only six Bollywood films have entered China since 2010, and the last one, Happy New Year starring Shah Rukh Khan, failed to hit even $1 million. Popular actor Wang Baoqiang (王宝强) is providing the lead actor's voice in this dubbed version of P.K. which could bring in some fans, however chatter from Sina Weibo indicates the nearly six-month delay since the domestic Indian release has hurt box office prospects since fans have already gotten their hands on HD copies. Still, according to EntGroup's EFMT Marketing Index, P.K. boasts the strongest awareness, intent to purchase and word-of-mouth levels of any new release this week.