On Screen China: Angelababy Gives ‘Resurgence’ a Shot at RMB 1B

  • Chinese stars aid Hollywood imports opening this weekend
  • Angelababy helps Resurgence get an 8 out of 10 CFI Score
  • Now You See Me 2’s CFI score of 6/10 supported by Jay Chou

Director Roland Emmerich, Chinese actress Angelababy, and Singaporean actor Ng Chin Han at the Chinese premiere of Independence Day: Resurgence (Weibo)

China’s box office charts will be reshuffled this weekend as the summer movie season gets into full swing with the release of Hollywood imports Now You See Me 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, and Hong Kong action director Johnnie To’s Three (三人行).

As a result, both Legendary’s Warcraft — $216 million through Thursday — and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory — $24 million — will see their runs cut short of their intended goals; Zootopia ($236 million) will remain the highest-grossing imported film of the year and Monsters University  ($33.7 million) will remain Pixar’s highest-grossing film in China.

Below, CFI takes a look at the box office potential for this weekend’s two Hollywood releases.

Now You See Me 2 (惊天魔盗团2)

China Distribution: China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
U.S. Distribution: Summit Entertainment

CFI Score: 6/10

Now You See Me surprised Chinese industry watchers and perhaps even its U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment, when it scored RMB 143 million ($23 million) in 2013. The film was released nearly half a year after its North American debut as a “buy-out” film (mǎi duànpiàn / 买断片). Imported films can enter China either on a revenue-sharing basis that sends roughly 25% share of the box office to U.S. distributors, or on a flat-fee basis in which  Chinese distributors “buy-out” the rights and keep all the profit themselves. Despite a lack of recognizable Western actors, Now You See Me scored well with Chinese audiences thanks to its highly entertaining story and impressive visual effects.

This time around, Summit unsurprisingly opted to import Now You See Me 2 as a revenue-sharing film and secured a Chinese release date just two weeks behind North America. Summit also handed the sequel’s directorial reigns to Chinese-American John M. Chu (GI Joe: Retaliation), cast Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou in a supporting role, and set the story in Macau all in hopes of pulling in a bigger Chinese crowd.

It seems to have paid off. Pre-sales are currently outpacing Independence Day and CFI believes Now You See Me 2 will win the opening day battle. We expect the film to open well in the $40M-$50M this weekend, but drop off steeply on subsequent weekends. Still, Now You See Me 2 will become Summit’s third film in 2016 following Gods of Egypt and Criminal to gross more in China than in the U.S.

Independence Day: Resurgence (独立日:卷土重来)

China Distribution: China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
US Distribution: 20th Century Fox

CFI Score: 8/10

The last time Chinese moviegoers witnessed large-scale destruction on their screens was more than a year ago when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson battled earthquakes in San Andreas. The film earned an impressive $108 million despite going up against Jurassic World and once again proved the Chinese affinity for big-budget disaster films.

Independence Day: Resurgence director Roland Emmerich also knows the Chinese market well. His disaster film 2012 included a plot line in which Chinese-built arks saved humanity from extinction. The film 2012 went on to become the highest-grossing movie of the year with $68.7 million.

CFI believes these elements as well as the inclusion of superstar Angelababy as a Chinese fighter pilot can help push “Resurgence” past the RMB 1 billion ($153 million) mark.