China Box Office: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Finds a Home at Number One

The Harry Potter spinoff leads a Hollywood re-take of the Chinese box office’s top two spots, accompanied by Disney’s Moana.

An advertisement for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Beijing’s Sanlitun Village (Courtesy Weibo)

An advertisement for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Beijing’s Sanlitun Village (Courtesy Weibo)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (神奇动物在哪里) enchanted Chinese audiences over the weekend as the Harry Potter spinoff debuted to an impressive RMB 284 million (US$41.2 million), effortlessly taking the top spot over fellow Hollywood import Moana (海洋奇缘).

The Disney Animation feature — which scored the 2nd biggest five-day Thanksgiving holiday opening ever with $81.1 million in North America — mustered a more modest debut in China with RMB 85 million ($12.3 million).

Combined Fantastic Beasts and Moana occupied more than half of China’s 39,000 screens and accounted for 75 percent of the weekend moviegoing business, leaving very little room for competition and pushed last weekend’s victor I Am Not Madame Bovary into a distant third place finish (我不是潘金莲).

Ticket sales for the social satire from acclaimed film director Feng Xiaogang — Feng took home Best Director at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards last weekend  — plummeted 78 percent on its second weekend of release, grossing just RMB 44.1 million ($6.4 million) for a 10-day total of RMB 332 million ($48.2 million).

At this pace, I Am Not Madame Bovary will fail to reach the RMB 500 million minimum guarantee agreed upon by the film’s production and distribution companies and will most likely become director Feng Xiaogang’s lowest-grossing movie since If You Are The One (非常勿扰) that grossed RMB 251 million in 2008, when the Chinese film industry was a fraction of the size it is now.

The film’s collapse can partly be attributed to the increased competition due to a crowded release calendar, but also its arthouse leanings and subtle commentary on China’s bureaucracy seem to have put off more general Chinese audiences.

Rounding out this weekend’s top five, the new action film Sky on Fire from Hong Kong director Ringo Lam opened with RMB 26.5 million ($3.8 million) and Detective Conan: The Darkest Nightmare, a Japanese anime, debuted to RMB 23 million ($3.3 million).

Looking ahead to next week, both Fantastic Beasts and Moana will be challenged by newcomers Miss Peregrine’s School For Peculiar Children from director Tim Burton as well as the highly anticipated imported anime Your Name that has topped the Japanese box office for 12 straight weeks and sits as the country’s fourth highest-grossing film in history.

CFI will be back this Thursday with its weekly box office preview.