China Box Office: ‘Civil War’ will Gross $200M-Plus, but Fall Short of ‘Ultron’

  • Marvel’s latest will be 5th-straight Disney film to gross more than $100 million in China in 2016
  • Weaker than Ultron as a Captain America standalone, not part of popular Avengers ensemble
  • With more strong titles soon, Disney could be 1st Hollywood studio to earn $1 billion in China
Beijing Opera-style Avengers masks created by a Chinese Marvel fan (Courtesy Disney WeChat account)

Beijing Opera-style Avengers masks created by a Chinese Marvel fan (Courtesy Disney WeChat account)

Captain America: Civil War solidified Disney’s dominant position among major Hollywood studios at the Chinese box office, debuting to a massive RMB 625 million ($96.0 million) this weekend.

On Monday, Civil War will become the fifth straight Disney release in China to gross more than $100 million, stretching back to Disney’s previous Marvel installment Ant-Man ($105.4 million) in October 2015, and continuing through Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($125.4 million), Zootopia ($235.6 million), and The Jungle Book (currently $147.7 million) in the first half of 2016.

With a solid release slate lined up for the second half of the year, including possible breakouts Finding Dory, Alice Through The Looking Glass (already set for May 27 day-and-date release), and Doctor Strange, Disney could well become the first Hollywood studio to earn $1 billion in China alone.

Notably, Civil War’s $96 million three-day launch outgrossed the entire run of Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman and demonstrates that Chinese audiences are much more receptive to the lighter superhero fare of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, favoring the logical narrative and entertaining action over the talky, brooding—and frankly—messy storytelling found in DC’s Extended Universe thus far.

Civil War’s debut puts it on a similar trajectory as Avengers: Age of Ultron — which grossed $240.1 million last May — though direct comparisons are difficult since that film opened on a Tuesday.

Public and critical reception, for Civil War has been much more positive that it was for Ultron with many Chinese fans and critics calling it the strongest Marvel film to-date. Civil War currently rates 8.1/10 on cultural website Douban showing, a full point ahead of Ultron’s 7.1/10.

CFI believes that Civil War will easily surpass $200 million with another week of competition free screens, but ultimately it will end right below Ultron, in part because it is technically a standalone Captain America film and not part of the more popular Avengers ensemble franchise.

A high-quality pirated copy of Captain America: Civil War was also leaked online yesterday which could put a significant dent in China’s final tally. Further complicating matters for Disney is that the rip seems to have originated from China. Disney has successfully negotiated four day-and-date releases in the market this year supposedly to help combat lost revenue from piracy.

The Cap’s dominant performance accounted for 83% of all ticket sales this weekend meaning most holdovers were squeezed out of the market. Last weekend’s winner, the highest-grossing romantic film of all-time Book of Love, plummeted 76% and grossed RMB 84.2 million ($12.9 million). Director Xue Xiaolu’s follow-up to the hugely successful Finding Mr. Right has surpassed its predecessor and has now earned RMB 636 million ($97.1 million) in 10 days of release.

Fellow Disney release, the live-action remake of The Jungle Book, also lost most of its screens to Civil War and dropped a steep 79% to RMB 29.7 million ($4.5 million) for the weekend. It currently stands as Disney’s third highest-grossing film behind Zootopia and Ultron with RMB 960 million ($147.7 million), but will drop a spot after Civil War’s second frame next weekend.