War for the Planet of the Apes earned 20th Century Fox its biggest opening ever in China with an outstanding $57 million debut.
Outperforming modest expectations for an action film light on action, War for the Planet of the Apes (猩球崛起3：终极之战) rode a wave of positive word of mouth to a dominant victory at China’s box office this weekend with RMB 377 million ($57.3 million), adjusted to remove online ticketing fees*.
The third and final installment in 20th Century Fox’s rebooted Planet of the Apes series, War opened 31% bigger than Dawn‘s RMB 288 million ($47 million) in 2014 — by far the most robust growth between the two films in any territory — and represents Fox’s biggest opening ever in China.
Dawn went on to earn RMB 708 million ($107.4 million) in China as the 5th highest-grossing Hollywood film of the year, and War looks very capable of beating that total — narrowly in local currency and by a bigger margin in USD given a strengthening renminbi.
War for the Planet of the Apes‘ opening weekend haul lagged nearly $10 million behind Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s $66 million last weekend, but thanks to stronger walk-in business and an older-skewing demographic, War should hold much better than Spider-Man during its first full week of release.
In the end, War for the Planet of the Apes could very well outgross Spider-Man: Homecoming in China, a complete reversal of the films’ fortunes in North America where Peter Parker ($330 million) has more than doubled Caesar & Co. ($145 million).
Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s collapse in China this weekend — a 79% nose-dive to earn just RMB 92 million* ($14.0 million) for a 10-day total of 644 million* ($97.7 million) — exemplifies the current state of superhero films in the territory as a fan-driven genre increasingly limited in box office potential.
In fact, if War for the Planet of the Apes eventually surpasses Homecoming, a Hollywood superhero film will fail to rank in the top ten highest-grossing imports of the year for the first time since 2003!
The release calendar takes a breather next weekend — in terms of quality, not quantity — as Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard headlines a slate of twenty new releases on Friday.
*All listed grosses in this article are adjusted to remove online ticketing fees. For a primer on why CFI reports this way, see here.