China Box Office: ‘Dunkirk’ Wins; ‘Wolf’ Endures; ‘Valerian’ Collapses

Dunkirk scored a modest $28 million victory thanks to director Christopher Nolan’s popularity in China, but it was all quiet on the Western front as imported films continued to flounder following the conclusion of a red-hot domestic blackout period.

All eyes now turn to Friday’s release of Spider-Man: Homecoming after another dispirited offering from Hollywood.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk debuted with RMB 183 million* ($28.1 million) this weekend, adjusted to remove online ticketing fees. The opening for Warner Bros’ WWII film can be viewed as a modest victory for the studio given Dunkirk‘s setting, far removed from the minds of most young Chinese moviegoers, and its experimental storytelling.

Dunkirk‘s dominance in the market — nearly half of the tickets sold over the weekend went to Dunkirk — can mainly be attributed to Nolan’s fanbase which has only grown since Inception released in 2010.

Still, taking into account the box office limits of Dunkirk‘s genre and increased competition over the next two weekends from major Hollywood releases (Spider-Man: Homecoming on September 8 and War for the Planet of the Apes on September 15), Dunkirk‘s eventual RMB 340 million* ($~50 million) finish will fall well behind Nolan’s previous offerings in the Middle Kingdom.

Fans of the Japanese manga series Gintama helped give the live-action film adaptation a second place finish this weekend with RMB 56 million* ($8.6 million). Demand slipped significantly on Saturday and Sunday following the rush by fans on opening day, yet Gintama is already the highest-grossing live-action Japanese film in the market, easily surpassing last year’s Parasyte (RMB 48 million).

Mega-blockbuster Wolf Warrior II slipped a spot to third place this weekend, its sixth in release, but still managed a strong RMB 53 million ($8.2 million). Wolf, the highest-grossing film ever from China and the highest-grossing film in 2017 from any single territory, has now grossed RMB 5.2 billion ($797.7 million).

Last weekend’s three imported wide releases fared terribly in their sophomore frames.

French director Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets slid 79% off its opening weekend win to gross RMB 38 million* ($5.8 million) in 4th place, and bring its 10-day total to RMB 356 million* ($54.7 million). Had the release of Besson’s FX-driven sci-fi adventure not coincided with last Monday’s Qixi (七夕) or Chinese Valentine’s Day, which gave the entire market a significant boost, Valerian would be ending its Chinese run under $50 million.

Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3 managed just RMB 17 million* ($2.6 million) and fell to 6th place this weekend. Cars‘ disappointing RMB 119 million* ($18.2 million) is the studio’s third highest-grossing film released in China behind Monsters University ($33.9 million) and Finding Dory ($38.1 million).

And in one of the worst second weekend drops on record for a Hollywood wide release Baby Driver plummeted 94% to earn just RMB 3.2 million ($0.5 million). The Sony heist pic has completely stalled in China and will finish its run shy of RMB 100 million* ($15.3 million).

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