On Friday May 5, the Indian wrestling drama Dangal debuted with little fanfare on Chinese screens, grossing just RMB 14.6 million ($2.1 million) against Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s RMB 100 million ($14.7 million).
Yet from that point forward, the two films took opposite box office trajectories. Through Wednesday June 7, Dangal — granted a one month release extension until July 4 thanks to leftover demand — had grossed RMB 1.094 billion ($161.0 million), a whopping 75 times its opening day haul and had easily surpassed Disney’s Zootopia as the leggiest movie in Chinese box office history.
Meanwhile, Guardians 2 — essentially squeezed out of theaters by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales — ended its run on Sunday with a still-respectable, but muted RMB 645 million ($95.0 million). The total was just 6.5 times its opening day.
The chart above plots the daily totals of both films during their first 30 days of release.
Guardians‘ box office trajectory should be taken as the standard for current Hollywood blockbusters in the territory. Its highest-grossing day was its second day of release and moviegoing demand waned immediately afterward. Dwindling peaks on subsequent weekend indicate the film ran out of steam fast, and exhibitors were more than willing to pull it from theaters on May 26 to make way for Pirates.
Dangal, on the other hand, is the exception to the norm. Aamir Khan’s film added to its daily box office throughout the first weekend, a rare feat only achieved by films with blazing word of mouth. By its sixth day in theaters, Dangal had overtaken Guardians and still wouldn’t reach its peak until May 20, more than two weeks after opening.
BO Data Source: Maoyan*
*All grosses adjusted to remove online ticketing fees