While Disney’s Beauty and the Beast waltzed to a commanding first place debut this weekend, its opening gross of RMB 289 million ($41.8 million), exclusive of online ticketing surcharges came in under initial projections (elsewhere you may see ticket-surcharge-inflated totals of RMB 309/$44.7 million, but the studio receives nothing from those extra fees). This figure also puts it significantly under the recent openings of Hollywood imports like xXx: Return of Xander Cage (RMB 435 million), Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (RMB 656 million), and Logan (RMB 342 million).
With typical press-release hype, the studio has trumpeted Beauty and the Beast’s China debut as the “biggest ever Disney Live Action opening weekend of all-time,” but that would seem to forget that last April, The Jungle Book opened to $50.3 million in China, nearly $10 million more. So, make that “second-biggest ever.”
Between this weekend’s mild underperformance, so-so word of mouth from Chinese audiences who by-and-large don’t go to musicals, and Kong: Skull Island stomping into Chinese theaters next Friday, Beauty and the Beast looks to finish shy of RMB 600 million ($~85 million), a bit of a disappointment for a day-and-date release that had nearly two months to build buzz in the world’s second largest film market.
Even so, Disney’s Executive Vice President of Distribution, Dave Hollis, wants to emphasize the strength of their local marketing strategy. Speaking with China Film Insider, Hollis said, “With lower awareness and affinity for the animated film in China, our campaign focused on young adult females and romance with a number of localized events, including a premiere with the talent, a music video, mall events and other localized executions. We are very pleased with this opening in China.”
Counting down the remainder of the chart, Hollywood continued its dominance of the Chinese film market for a sixth consecutive weekend, taking up eight slots of the top ten.
In second place, A Dog’s Purpose surpassed its North American total, with an RMB 54 million ($7.8 million) weekend. After seventeen days of release, Universal’s tale of canine reincarnation has amassed an incredible RMB 523 million ($75.7 million) and will likely go down as one of the biggest Hollywood surprises of 2017.
Meanwhile, Logan slipped to third place this weekend, grossing RMB 29 million ($4.2 million). Fox’s R-rated superhero flick, abbreviated by fourteen minutes for its China release, has now earned RMB 698 million ($101.0 million). It also becomes the third imported film in six weeks to hit the $100 million mark behind xXx ($162.9 million) and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter ($159.5 million).