Compared to Hollywood’s recent gold rush in China, Wonder Woman’s $36 million debut this weekend may appear lackluster, but given the territory’s unfamiliarity to the caped demigoddess, prospects for the much-maligned DC Extended Universe are now looking far brighter for Warner Bros.
Director Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman may not have shattered the box office ceiling for female-directed films like it did stateside with its $100M+ debut (Xue Xiaolu’s Book of Love holds that distinction in China), but Gal Gadot’s badass Amazonian warrior still found modest success in the world’s second largest film market, debuting with RMB 246 million ($36.2 million) adjusted to remove online ticketing fees.
The Wonder Woman character is virtually unknown outside DC Comic fanboy circles and poor word of mouth from Warner Bros’ two previous DC outings in the country — Batman vs. Superman in 2016 and Man of Steel in 2013 — looked at first to hamper Wonder Woman‘s box office prospects in China. But a late marketing push, including 200 jam-packed advanced screenings on Wednesday evening, helped create the mostly positive buzz that carried the film throughout the weekend.
Increased competition from Hollywood films in coming weeks, including Tom Cruise’s The Mummy on Friday, likely means Wonder Woman will end its Chinese run with just double its opening weekend haul or $70-$75 million minus online ticketing fees.
Wonder Woman secured over half of the weekend’s moviegoing business from half of China’s world-leading 45,000 screens, so last week’s Dragon Boat Festival box office victor Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was literally squeezed out of theaters. Disney’s latest installment in the aging franchise plummeted 75% in its sophomore frame to gross an adjusted RMB 113 million ($16.6 million).
Through 10 days of release, Pirates has looted RMB 918 million ($135 million) from Chinese moviegoers, but will continue to decelerate, ending its voyage just north of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (RMB 1.052 billion adjusted) to become the third highest-grossing Hollywood film of the year behind Furious 8 and Kong: Skull Island.
Meanwhile, India’s Dangal continues its miraculous Chinese run. On its fourth weekend of release, the Aamir Khan-starring wrestling drama lost just 19% of its previous weekend’s moviegoing business to gross an adjusted RMB 58 million ($8.5 million). After one month in Chinese cinemas — and still with one more month to go thanks to a rare extension release — Dangal has earned RMB 1.062 billion ($156.2 million) and stands as the highest-grossing Indian and non-Hollywood import of all-time in China.