It was all demons and no angels for the Ron Howard/Tom Hanks vehicle Inferno, which took in only US$12.6 million for the weekend in China.
Mirroring its disappointing North American debut, Columbia Pictures’ Inferno, the sequel to the global hit The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, finished well below expectations in China, grossing just RMB 85.6 million ($12.6 million) for the three-day weekend.
Inferno’s performance was enough to eke out a top finish at the weekend box office, but with a crowded release schedule over the next month including Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange seizing the majority of Chinese screens on Friday, November 4, Inferno will disappear from Chinese theaters seemingly overnight. The most the film can hope for now is RMB 150 million ($22 million), a major blow to Sony and its once mighty franchise, considering The Da Vinci Code was the highest-grossing imported film in China in 2006.
The other imported new release, Trolls, fared even worse earning only RMB 33 million ($4.9 million). The film’s lack of marketing and IP recognition spelled doom from the beginning and Trolls will end up as the lowest-grossing animated import of the year.
Local farce Mr. Donkey debuted in second place this weekend with RMB 58.7 million ($8.8 million). The sophomore effort from theater group Kaixin Mahua received positive reviews both in China and in the US where China Lion is distributing, but won’t replicate the success of last year’s Goodbye Mr. Loser (RMB 1.44 billion, $226 million)
Hollywood holdovers Mechanic: Resurrection and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back both took significant hits in their second weekends of release.
Jack Reacher plummeted a staggering 90 percent from its opening weekend and dropped to ninth place with RMB 3.8 million ($0.56 million). The action sequel starring Tom Cruise has grossed just RMB 59 million ($8.7 million) in 10 days.
Mechanic: Resurrection fared slightly better, falling 67 percent to earn a third-place weekend finish with RMB 56.4 million ($8.1 million). China is easily Mechanic: Resurrection’s top-grossing territory, earning RMB 295 million ($44 million) to date.
Fourteen new releases squeeze into theaters this week in a futile effort to battle Doctor Strange including Max Steel (November 1), Bollywood’s Fan (November 2), and local efforts Hide & Seek (捉迷藏) and Someone to Talk To (一句顶一万句).
Stay tuned to CFI’s On Screen China for box office previews and analysis and follow analyst Jonathan Papish on Twitter @ChinaBoxOffice for daily updates and insight.