Jack Reacher was no match for The Mechanic sequel as the two faced off with same-day releases in China.
In this weekend’s battle of superfluous Hollywood action sequels, the star power and synchronous release date of Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back couldn’t contend with China’s affinity for action star Jason Statham and his Mechanic: Resurrection.
Mechanic: Resurrection grossed RMB 167 million (US$24.9 million) from Friday through Sunday, easily taking first place at the box office and solidifying Statham’s status as a bankable action star in China. The 49-year-old Brit’s previous successes in the country include The Expendables, The Transporter and the Fast & Furious franchises.
Even more impressive, Mechanic: Resurrection’s three-day China debut nearly doubled its predecessor’s lifetime gross in the territory AND it has already past North America’s total where the film sits at just $21.2 million after two months of release.
Mechanic: Resurrection’s clichéd plot led to poor reviews by both critics and discerning Douban users (5.7/10) with one poster drawing parallels between its story and the trite Spring Festival Gala comedy sketches performed year after year.
“Guo Da/Jason Statham (a comedic actor who performs at the gala every year) is blackmailed. Guo Da is not happy. Cai Ming/Jessica Alba (Guo Da’s onstage partner) enters, but she is kidnapped. Guo Da is not happy. Guo Da saves Cai Ming and kills someone! Guo Da kills someone else! Guo Da doesn’t want to kill, but he kills anyways! Is Guo Da dead? No! Guo Da comes back to life and finds Cai Ming! Cai Ming is happy.”
Despite Statham’s by-the-numbers approach, Mechanic: Resurrection played extremely well in China’s smaller cities, so-called “second and third tier” cities that aren’t as internationally-leaning as the first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Tickets for the film accounted for 40.1 percent of the weekend’s total in Shanghai and 37.6 percent in Guangzhou, but over half the weekend’s moviegoing business went to Mechanic: Resurrection in cities like Ningbo, Wuxi and Nantong.
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise’s recent promotional tour pushing Jack Reacher: Never Go Back failed to generate spectacular results. The sequel was dead on arrival in China, grossing RMB 37.6 million ($5.5 million) in a disappointing fourth place this weekend. Never Go Back will finish with less than the first installment, a shockingly bad performance for Cruise and Paramount given the Chinese film industry’s growth since 2013.
Other box office highlights from the weekend:
- Operation Mekong (湄公河行动) surprisingly took 2nd place on its 4th weekend of release and crossed the RMB 1 billion mark
- Fellow National Holiday release I Belonged to You (从你的全世界路过) quietly became China’s highest-grossing romantic film in history, outgrossing April’s Book of Love ($119.5 million)
- Disney’s second weekend holdover The BFG lost 84 percent of its opening weekend’s business. It has earned RMB 136 million ($20.1 million) and will be Disney’s lowest-grossing film of 2016 in China.
Upcoming wide releases this Friday include Sony’s Inferno, 20th Century Fox’s Trolls and local comedy Mr. Donkey. Yes…Mr. Donkey. Stay tuned for previews and analysis in Thursday’s On Screen China.