Despite a $47 million first-place debut by the Disney/Marvel sequel, the weekend’s biggest winner was Aamir Khan’s wrestling drama Dangal which garnered the highest user-ratings on record in China.
Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and his team of galactic misfits led the Chinese box office this weekend with RMB 322 million ($46.7 million) minus online-ticketing charges. The Disney/Marvel sequel easily outpaced its predecessor’s RMB 192 million three-day debut by 68% and also topped the openings of several recent Marvel one-offs Ant-Man (RMB 273 million) and Doctor Strange (RMB 300 million).
The victory, however, came in below expectations and Volume 2 will likely end its run near RMB 700 million (~$100 million), once again proving there is a clear upper limit to the once-popular superhero genre in China, especially compared to recent RMB 1 billion-plus earners xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
Despite earning just one-quarter of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, the weekend’s biggest surprise turned out to be Aamir Khan’s crowd-pleasing wrestling drama Dangal which debuted with RMB 79 million ($11.5 million) adjusted to remove online-ticketing fees. Dangal follows the upward box office trajectories of recent success stories A Dog’s Purpose, Hacksaw Ridge, and Zootopia in which stellar word of mouth (see ratings below) snowballs throughout opening weekend boosting ticket sales on each successive day, and which will lead to an even larger second weekend at the box office.
Dangal‘s User Ratings
Several factors seem to have contributed to Dangal’s popularity with Chinese moviegoers. First, Aamir Khan is perhaps the only Bollywood star known in China; his previous film PK stands as India’s highest-grosser in China with RMB 119 million and Khan visited China firsthand in a well-publicized appearance at the Beijing International Film Festival to promote this newest release.
Second, Dangal‘s central concept focuses on a highly-patriarchal Indian society and the country’s preference for boys over girls, an issue that is front-and-center for many in China, but rarely addressed in mainstream film.
In third place, Shock Wave (拆弹专家) found RMB 46 million ($6.6 million) in its second weekend of release. The action film distributed by Bona Film Group has earned a ten-day total of RMB 331 million ($47.9 million).
Fate of the Furious, now China’s highest-grossing imported film of all-time, fell 80% off its previous weekend to gross RMB 30 million ($4.4 million). The eighth installment in Universal’s lucrative action franchise has now taken in RMB 2.505 billion ($363.0 million) minus online-ticketing fees and this week was granted a one-month release extension to play through June 13.
Up next Friday for Hollywood are Power Rangers and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, but tepid pre-release buzz suggests Guardians 2 and Dangal will remain on top for a second straight weekend.