China Box Office: Summit Heist Pic Tops Fox Sci-Fi Flick

  • Hollywood sequels criticized online for pandering to Chinese
  • China the top market for three Summit films in 2016 so far
  • Now You See Me 2 will come close to hitting $100M in China


Last weekend’s battle of Hollywood sequel imports was won by Summit Entertainment’s heist film Now You See Me 2, which, just like runner up Independence Day: Resurgence from 20th Century Fox, drew heavy criticism for pandering to Chinese audiences.

Now You See Me 2 earned RMB 287.6 million ($43.3M) over the three-day weekend. Its debut was the highest-ever for Summit in China.

Now You See Me 2‘s China run is likely to outpace its performance in North America, where it has grossed $52 million after three weekends in release. The film will be Summit’s third film of 2016 to gross more in China than in North America. The other two were Criminal and Gods of Egypt. This is a slight consolation for the distributor that has struggled since the curtain fell on its cash-cow franchise The Hunger Games.

Independence Day: Resurgence pulled in RMB 240 million ($36.0 million) over the weekend in a close second. Online reception for “Resurgence” has been overwhelmingly negative with the film scoring just 5.9/10 on cultural website Douban.

Many of the comments criticized the Chinese elements — including Angelababy’s brief appearance as a Chinese fighter pilot, as well as product placement for Tencent’s instant messaging app QQ — complaining they didn’t fit into the story organically and seemed out of place.

“Angelababy’s role was fine but her acting was super awkward,” said Douban user Maweiwei in a one-star review. “Throwing in advertisements for QQ and Mengniu (a Chinese milk brand) was equally uncomfortable to watch.”

“Works such as The Three Body Problem and Interstellar have helped elevate the sci-fi genre to an era of high philosophy,” wrote another user in a 2-star review. “Independence Day: Resurgence, however, is still stuck in a Cold War-era mentality relying on explosives to save humanity, and in the end the hero is always the white man. When is this cliched American-cowboy spirit of fighting and endlessly saving the entire world going to stop?”

Now You See Me 2 fared a little better on Douban, but still only drew a rating of 6.6/10.

“[The producers] risked their lives enlisting Fan Bingbing, Jay Chou, and Macau in order to lock up Chinese moviegoers’ money, but what’s the point when the plot is so underwhelming?” wrote Douban user Quan Quan Shi Yuan Yuan.

Despite the criticism, Now You See Me 2 should come close to hitting $100 million, well above its predecessor, which grossed just $23 million in 2013.

Independence Day: Resurgence, however, will fall well short of expectations and end its run in the $90 million range.