China Box Office: Eight Is Hollywood’s Lucky Number

Eight Hollywood imports occupied the top eight spots at this weekend’s Chinese box office, a first for a notoriously protective movie industry that recently adopted further measures to ensure that domestic films receive two-thirds of a cinema’s annual screening allotment.

Leading the way was Fox’s Logan with an impressive RMB 339 million ($49.2 million) according to official local sources. The R-rated sequel, starring Hugh Jackman in likely his final film as the Wolverine, lost 14 minutes from its North American runtime to make it to Chinese screens, and netizens were quick to compare versions to see what they had missed.

Predictable were scenes cut due to extreme violence and gore, vulgarity, and a short prologue featuring Deadpool — most likely because that film wholly failed to gain access to the Chinese market. But most shocking were reports that five to six minutes of the film’s end credits were lopped off. Representatives for Fox have so far declined to comment on the matter.

Cinema owners in China are known to raise the lights midway through the end credits, and send in pushy cleaning staff, essentially forcing out moviegoers to squeeze in more screenings and boost their bottom line. It’s unclear if this was the case with Logan, but reports from multiple moviegoers at multiple cinema chains point to the end credits missing from the actual print.

In second place, A Dog’s Purpose earned a strong RMB 119 million ($17.3 million) on its opening weekend opposite Logan. Director Lasse Hallström’s previous canine flick, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (starring Chinese pariah Richard Gere) is one of the highest-rated films of all-time on local rating site Douban, and it seems moviegoers are lapping up his newest tale about man’s best friend. A Dog’s Purpose debuted in third place on Friday, but by the end of the weekend it had overtaken Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Overwhelmingly positive word of mouth could push A Dog’s Purpose to an actual increase in business on its second weekend, a feat last accomplished by an imported film in 2016, by Zootopia.

Meanwhile, Resident Evil lost a staggering 81% of its opening weekend business on its second weekend.  Even so, the sixth film in the action/horror series has now grossed RMB 952 million ($138.1 million) in China alone, almost half of its $294 million worldwide total.

The weekend’s third Hollywood debut, The Lego Batman Movie, couldn’t connect with Chinese families and opened with just RMB 24 million ($3.5 million). The Danish toy brand has made inroads in China in recent years, opening up its largest retail shop in Shanghai in late 2016, and marketing its blocks to middle-class Chinese consumers, but Lego Batman‘s whiplash, self-referential humor failed to resonate with Chinese families unfamiliar with its popular culture and DC Comics allusions.

The remaining four Hollywood films were (Weekend/Total):

Sing RMB 13 million ($1.8 million) RMB 193 million ($28.1 million)
La La Land RMB 8 million ($1.1 million) RMB 236 million ($34.2 million)
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage RMB 7 million ($1.0 million) RMB 1.114 billion ($161.7 million)
Assassin’s Creed RMB 5 million ($0.7 million) RMB 158 million ($22.9 million)