On Screen China: ‘Mojin’ Racks Up the Box Office Records

Mojin’s near $92 million debut was the third biggest in Chinese box office history.

IMAX screenings “brought out the best viewing experience,” says director Wu Ershan.

A poster tallies the hundreds of millions of RMB grossed by Mojin

A poster tallies the hundreds of millions of RMB grossed by Mojin

While the rest of the world flocked to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Chinese moviegoers instead rushed to catch a homegrown blockbuster, Mojin—The Lost Legend (寻龙诀), buying tickets worth $91.9 million in just three days and helping the film from Wanda Pictures, Enlight Pictures, and Huayi Brothers to set several box office records for Chinese-language films. As predicted, Mojin and runner-up Surprise (万万没想到)—which grossed a modest $22.9 million over the three-day weekend—completely dominated China’s box office, accounting for a weekend market share of over 96%.

Mojin’s near $92 million debut was the third biggest for a local film ever behind this summer’s Monster Hunt ($100 million) and the October 1 National Day holiday’s Lost in Hong Kong ($103 million). Positive word of mouth (it got an 8/10 rating on culture website Douban) should give Mojin a long, healthy run, and it is still in a great position to overtake Monster Hunt as the highest-grossing film of all-time in China.

Mojin can now claim the following records:

  • Highest-grossing midnight screenings for a 3D local language film (Thursday midnights – $1.34 million)
  • Highest-grossing opening day for a 3D local language film (Friday – $26.4 million)
  • Highest-grossing single day for a 3D local language film (Saturday – $35.5 million)

Opening on nearly 250 IMAX screens, Mojin also broke the following IMAX records for a local language film:

  • Highest-grossing midnight screenings ($330,000)
  • Highest-grossing single day ($2.7 million)
  • Highest grossing weekend ($7.5 million)

Speaking with Chinese online movie portal Mtime, IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster congratulated the film’s backers as well as the entire production team behind Mojin for the outstanding box office success, especially from IMAX screens: “This is in many ways a result of our close cooperation and proves that when movie fans can experience a work of such creativity on IMAX screens, their positive word of mouth will lead to record-breaking box office results.”

Mojin director Wu Ershan (乌尔善) was delighted with the IMAX performance: “I hoped to reveal a subterranean world never before seen by audiences in Mojin—The Lost Legend, and with many of these scenes IMAX brings about the best viewing experience. We are very proud of the outstanding reaction to Mojin’s IMAX screenings.”

Half a world away, in New York City, Mojin held its own against Star Wars, selling out all seven of its Friday, December 18, screenings at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square—this despite American moviegoers’ reluctance to sit through subtitled films. Of course, all 48 Friday showings of Star Wars at that same theater were sold out, too.

Jonathan Landreth contributed reporting.

—Follow Jonathan Papish on Twitter: @ChinaBoxOffice