China Box Office: ‘Apes’ Rule With Strong Debut; ‘Spider-Man’ Holds Like a Chump

War for the Planet of the Apes earned 20th Century Fox its biggest opening ever in China with an outstanding $57 million debut.

Chinese fan art for War for the Planet of the Apes (Courtesy 20th Century Fox Weibo)

Outperforming modest expectations for an action film light on action, War for the Planet of the Apes (猩球崛起3:终极之战) rode a wave of positive word of mouth to a dominant victory at China’s box office this weekend with RMB 377 million ($57.3 million), adjusted to remove online ticketing fees*.

The third and final installment in 20th Century Fox’s rebooted Planet of the Apes series, War opened 31% bigger than Dawn‘s RMB 288 million ($47 million) in 2014 — by far the most robust growth between the two films in any territory — and represents Fox’s biggest opening ever in China.

Dawn went on to earn RMB 708 million ($107.4 million) in China as the 5th highest-grossing Hollywood film of the year, and War looks very capable of beating that total — narrowly in local currency and by a bigger margin in USD given a strengthening renminbi.

War for the Planet of the Apes‘ opening weekend haul lagged nearly $10 million behind Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s $66 million last weekend, but thanks to stronger walk-in business and an older-skewing demographic, War should hold much better than Spider-Man during its first full week of release.

In the end, War for the Planet of the Apes could very well outgross Spider-Man: Homecoming in China, a complete reversal of the films’ fortunes in North America where Peter Parker ($330 million) has more than doubled Caesar & Co. ($145 million).

Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s collapse in China this weekend — a 79% nose-dive to earn just RMB 92 million* ($14.0 million) for a 10-day total of 644 million* ($97.7 million) — exemplifies the current state of superhero films in the territory as a fan-driven genre increasingly limited in box office potential.

In fact, if War for the Planet of the Apes eventually surpasses Homecoming, a Hollywood superhero film will fail to rank in the top ten highest-grossing imports of the year for the first time since 2003!

The release calendar takes a breather next weekend — in terms of quality, not quantity — as Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard headlines a slate of twenty new releases on Friday.

*All listed grosses in this article are adjusted to remove online ticketing fees. For a primer on why CFI reports this way, see here.