The latest installment in Disney’s aging Pirates of the Caribbean franchise discovered more booty on Chinese shores than it did at home this weekend, yet despite the strong performance, the Dragon Boat Festival box office failed to match last year’s record-setting haul.
Walt Disney Pictures’ Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and India’s Dangal completely dominated the three-day Dragon Boat Festival (端午节) accounting for more than 80% of the holiday’s RMB 705 million ($103 million) total haul.
Imported films have now seized the box office crown during the last three Chinese public holidays — a first in Chinese box office history where holidays are typically reserved for homegrown films — and the drought of local language hits looks to continue through June and into the summer months.
Opening Friday in a day-and-date release with North America, Pirates debuted with a five-day total of RMB 709 million ($104 million) adjusted to remove online ticketing surcharges. Pirates‘ China bounty was well ahead of its North American debut — $78.5 million across the 4-day Memorial Day Holiday weekend — but couldn’t keep pace with last year’s Dragon Boat victor Warcraft which racked up more than RMB 1 billion in ticket sales in the same five-day slot. As a result, total box office revenue for this year’s Dragon Boat Festival fell 17% year-to-year.
Pirates appears to be sailing towards a $175 million finish and will soon become the 6th imported film to cross the RMB 1 billion threshold this year alone, equalling the number of imports to have reached that mark in both 2015 and 2016 combined.
In second place over the holiday, the Indian family drama Dangal continued its phenomenal Chinese run and is itself knocking on RMB 1 billion. Through the end of Tuesday, May 30, Dangal has grossed RMB 956 million ($139.3 million) in adjusted ticket sales. Already both the highest-grossing Indian film and the highest-grossing non-Hollywood import of all-time in China, Dangal will look to increase its hold on those records after being granted a one-month release extension until July 4.
All films will see a boost in moviegoing attendance on Thursday, June 1 for International Children’s Day.
Up next for Hollywood is Friday’s day-and-date release of Wonder Woman, the latest entry in Warner Bros’ struggling DC Extended Universe. CFI will have a full box office preview in tomorrow’s On Screen China.