On Screen China: ‘Zootopia’ Doubles Screens and ‘Ip Man 3’ vs. ‘Gods of Egypt’

  • Zootopia stays on track to become China’s highest grossing animation ever
  • Steep drop of more than 70% predicted for Ip Man 3 following serious fraud allegations
  • Gods of Egypt CFI Score: 5/10, China likely to be highest grossing territory worldwide
Chinese pose (Courtesy Gods of Egypt Weibo)

Chinese fans pose with foreign “Egyptians” at a promotional event. (Courtesy Gods of Egypt Weibo)

After storming the Chinese box office last weekend with a $72 million debut, director Wilson Yip’s martial arts action flick Ip Man 3 (3) came crashing back down to earth this week amidst allegations that its primary investor, Shanghai Kuailu Investment Group, bulk-bought tickets to inflate the film’s box office revenue.

A backlash from irked moviegoers is one of several factors that will spell trouble for Ip Man 3 this weekend — others include a newly available 1080p pirated copy out of Hong Kong now making the rounds on Chinese file-sharing sites and the regular play of normalized market forces absent the blatant acts of manipulation reported last weekend. China Film Insider predicts a steep drop of more than 70% for the film from its opening weekend.

Meanwhile, Zootopia (疯狂动物城) will continue its magical run, fueled by stellar word of mouth. The original animated film from Disney Animation debuted to just RMB 22.5 million ($3.4 million) on Friday, March 4 while playing on 15% of China’s screens. One week later, the film has earned RMB 363 million ($56 million) and nearly doubled its screen occupancy.

User ratings on cultural website Douban currently sit at a staggering 9.4/10 and movie critic aggregator Iris Magazine has Zootopia at 7.4/10, the highest of any release this year.

Typical comments:

“Just astounding! Disney manages to outdo itself year after year! Judy reminded me of myself as a foreign exchange student moving to a strange new city to pursue her dreams.” — Qiao Xiansen, March 4, 2016


“The visuals were exquisitely imagined and full of hilarious moments while the story twisted and turned in unexpected directions.” — Alpha He, March 2, 2016


China Film Insider predicts Zootopia will see a rare 80%-100% bump in ticket sales on its second weekend and will surpass last year’s Big Hero 6 (RMB 525 million) as the highest-grossing Disney Animation/Pixar film of all-time in China — and it is still on track to become the first ever animated feature to gross RMB 1 billion ($154 million).

Zootopia will remain unscathed by this weekend’s only major new release, the Hollywood import Gods of Egypt. Below, CFI takes a look at the film’s box office potential.

Gods of Egypt (力之眼)
China Distribution: Le Vision Pictures
US Distribution: Lionsgate

CFI Score: 5/10

Neither a traditional Hollywood action or science fiction film — both genres that Chinese audiences seem to lap up — Gods of Egypt occupies a rather tenuous position in the Chinese marketplace.

On the one hand, its critical and commercial failure in the U.S. will stifle box-office potential in the globally oriented first- and second-tier cities where Chinese moviegoers would have undoubtedly caught wind of its negative buzz. However, if it can hook audiences in lower-tiered cities that favor spectacle and FX-driven action, Gods of Egypt could be saved from disastrous results in both of the world’s top two film markets.

Gods of Egypt will also be running unhindered as the only Hollywood-style blockbuster in theaters during the next two weeks, leaving it ample room to play on premium-priced IMAX screens before Batman v Superman premieres on March 25.

China Film Insider sees Gods of Egypt fighting it out with Ip Man 3 for second place this weekend in the $20-$25 million range, and its final tally should easily outstrip North America’s $24.5 million to make China the film’s top grossing territory.

—Follow Jonathan Papish on Twitter @ChinaBoxOffice