- Bodyguard outpaced Chongqing Hotpot, but positive reviews will put Hotpot on top
- Zootopia, highest grossing animated feature ever in China, gets extended theatrical run
- Batman v Superman nosedive may give Warner pause re taking next DC franchise to China
- Q2 BO could tip in favor of Hollywood with likely pix such as Captain America and Warcraft
Imported films gained some ground on domestic fare in March thanks to Disney Animation’s runaway hit Zootopia ($224.7 million and counting as of this writing) and the surprise success of The Revenant ($57.0 million). But the overall box office failed to hit earlier predictions of RMB 4 billion in part due to the controversy surrounding Ip Man 3’s contested tallies as well as Warner Bros’ epic disappointment with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Following the record-breaking Lunar New Year period in February — fueled by local language hits such as Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid — imported films accounted for just 14% of total box office revenue. After March, however, the scales have rebalanced somewhat with Hollywood earning 28% market share in the first three months of 2016.
Quarter two should see those scales shift further in favor of Hollywood with potential breakout films such as the comic book and video game franchise films Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse, and Angry Birds and Warcraft all likely receiving import licenses.
Turning back to this past holiday weekend, two new local films topped the box office charts over the extended Tomb Sweeping Festival. As predicted by CFI, My Beloved Bodyguard (我的特工爷爷), directed by and starring seminal Hong Kong martial artist Sammo Hung, led with a 4-day RMB 208 million ($32.1 million) debut despite overwhelmingly negative word of mouth. Bodyguard was able to outpace second place Chongqing Hotpot (火锅英雄), which earned RMB 184 million ($28.4 million). Positive reviews for the dark comedy Hotpot will ultimately put it in front.
In third and fourth place, two Hollywood releases continued their completely different trajectories. Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman was given the cold shoulder by Chinese audiences with just RMB 89.8 million ($13.8 million) from Friday-Monday. The 77% nosedive from its debut is one of the worst ever for a Hollywood film of this magnitude and should give Warner execs pause as they plan for future DC installments in the territory.
Meanwhile, Disney Animation’s Zootopia dropped just 25% in its 5th weekend of release in Chinese theaters, tallying RMB 88.6 million ($13.7 million) for the 4-day holiday. The original animation also received a last-minute two-week release extension by film regulators, ensuring an even lengthier run for the highest-grossing animated film of all-time in China.