Marvel’s Benedict Cumberbatch vehicle starts its run atop China’s box office, with Hide and Seek and Mr. Donkey trailing.
There was nothing weird about Doctor Strange‘s expected strong performance for its China opening, with the Marvel comic book adaptation taking in almost US$45 million in its first three days, as CFI‘s Jonathan Papish predicted.
The film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role and Tilda Swinton in a controversial turn as a Celtic mystic, brushed aside charges of “whitewashing” and kowtowing to Chinese censorship concerns to outpace the second-place film, domestic Chinese thriller Hide and Seek, by about $40 million, based on numbers published by China-based research firm Entgroup.
Unlike recent Hollywood misfires in China, including Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Cumberbatch’s popularity here from his starring role in Sherlock clearly helped to propel Doctor Strange. Although November’s upcoming release slate is crowded, especially with further foreign fare, few of those titles will be able to match the popularity of Cumberbatch.
In recent weeks some of Hollywood’s top names, including Cruise and Tom Hanks, have watched their films fizzle in China, indicating a potential shift away from these stars and towards alternate names with less North American pull, like Cumberbatch and Jason Statham, both of whom are originally from the United Kingdom. Hanks will get another crack at box office success when Sully is released here before the end of the year.
Hide and Seek cowered behind Strange in second place with about $5 million for the weekend, followed by domestic Chinese film Mr. Donkey, which took second place last week.
Doctor Strange should have additional legs later this month, with a run of $100 million in China considered possible.