Despite first place at a quiet Chinese box office this weekend, Ghost in the Shell faltered with general audiences and will all but disappear from cinemas on Friday with the release of The Fate of the Furious.
With the Chinese success this year of a handful of Hollywood films that had faltered at home— xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and A Dog’s Purpose all outearned their North American grosses— Paramount had reason to hope a robust opening weekend in China could compensate for Ghost In The Shell’s disappointing worldwide rollout the prior week.
The studio even brought in the powerful local marketing guns of Weying Technology, China’s largest online ticketing portal, which invested an undisclosed amount to secure 10% of Ghost in the Shell’s global revenue.
Yet by Sunday morning, after a feeble $7.4 million opening Friday and only a slight increase in ticket sales Saturday amid paltry word of mouth, Chinese media was already describing Ghost in the Shell as pūjiē (扑街) or a flop — literally something that had “fallen flat on its face.”
At the end of the weekend, Ghost in the Shell had earned RMB 140 million ($20.3 million) excluding online ticketing fees, well below already muted pre-release expectations, and predictions that it would easily outgross North America ($31.6 million through Sunday) seem less certain given Ghost in the Shell’s weak user ratings (6.6/10 on Douban; 7.6/10 on Maoyan) and Friday’s upcoming release of The Fate of the Furious, both of which suggest an epic second weekend drop in ticket sales.
Ghost in the Shell’s meek opening meant holdovers could grab a larger market share than anticipated. Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Kong: Skull Island added RMB 73 million ($10.6 million) on its third weekend of release, lifting its total to RMB 1.055 billion ($153 million). Kong stampeded past Resident Evil: The Final Chapter on Sunday and will eke by xXx later this week to claim the title, even if it proves to be short-lived, as Hollywood’s highest-grossing film of the year.