China Box Office: India’s ‘Dangal’ Crushes Hollywood Heavyweights

Released on the same day as Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Aamir Khan wrestling drama needed just six days to overtake the superhero sequel at the daily box office, and more than doubled the Hollywood blockbuster’s haul this weekend.

Dangal crossed RMB 400 million at the Chinese box office this weekend (Dangal Official Weibo)

Already the highest-grossing Indian film of all-time in China, Dangal continued its remarkable run in the world’s second largest film industry this weekend earning RMB 215 million ($31.2 million) adjusted to remove online ticketing fees, a staggering 170% jump in ticket sales from opening weekend.

The majority of films released in Chinese cinemas earn the bulk of their box office revenue on opening weekend, thereafter gradually disappearing from theaters as moviegoing demand dwindles. Yet with this weekend’s bumper performance, Dangal now joins the ranks of ZootopiaHacksaw Ridge, and A Dog’s Purpose as part of a select list of imported films that bucked the normal box office trajectory and found growing audience demand into their second and third weeks of release.

Dangal has now grossed RMB 418 million ($60.7 million) through the end of Monday, May 15 and could more than double its total by the end of its Chinese run as the film screens virtually unchallenged until the latest Pirates of the Caribbean sails into theaters on Friday, May 26.

Dangal, the true story of two female wrestlers who toppled gender stereotypes and the father who begrudgingly trained them, has won over Chinese audiences with its feel-good story elements. The film’s portrayal of strong female characters in an overwhelmingly patriarchal society also struck a chord with Chinese moviegoers who are rarely confronted with social issues in their own domestic film industry.

Meanwhile, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 fell 70% on its second weekend earning just RMB 98 million ($14.3 million). The second weekend drop-off, once considered steep, has now become standard for Hollywood films in the market.

To date, Volume 2 has grossed RMB 543 million ($78.9 million), and although it will inch past Volume 1‘s total sometime next weekend, the performance should be seen as somewhat of a disappointment given the market’s expansion since 2014.

Two new Hollywood releases failed to find any semblance of a receptive audience this weekend. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which flopped stateside, managed just RMB 34 million ($5.0 million) in its feeble debut, and Power Rangers fared even worse grossing RMB 22.5 million ($3.2 million) as one of the weakest wide releases in recent memory.

Next Friday sees wide releases for Sony’s Life, Focus Features’ A Monster Callsand the Russian Avengers knockoff Guardians, but Dangal will easily retain its box office crown.