On Screen China: Can ‘Mechanic’ Take ‘Jack Reacher’ This Weekend?

Tom Cruise meeting fans in Shanghai on October 12 to promote Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Courtesy Mtime)

Tom Cruise meeting fans in Shanghai on October 12 to promote Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Courtesy Mtime)

Beginning this Friday with the Chinese release of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Hollywood will have a string of five straight weekends in which imported films receive day-and-date releases, the longest stretch ever in a market that often lags several months behind North American premieres.


Upcoming Hollywood Day-And-Date Releases

 Trolls is being released one week prior to its North American release

The debuts (see above chart) encompass five of Hollywood’s Big Six studios and most likely represent Tinseltown’s last chance to rack up Chinese box office revenue in 2016.

Along with Paramount’s sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back starring Tom Cruise, Lionsgate is releasing its own action sequel Mechanic: Resurrection this Friday as well. Who will win the weekend, veteran action star Tom Cruise or perennial Chinese favorite Jason Statham? CFI breaks it down in this week’s On Screen China.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (侠探杰克:永不回头)

China Distribution – China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
US Distribution – Paramount Pictures

In late 2012, Jack Reacher earned $218 million worldwide on a $60 million budget, putting dollar signs in the eyes of Paramount execs who saw franchise potential. The Chinese release was delayed two months and despite a prime slot at the tail end of Lunar New Year 2013, Cruise’s action film eked out just RMB 96 RMB ($15.1 million).

Given the modest performance, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’s synchronous release this weekend and Cruise’s multi-city China publicity tour come as somewhat of a surprise. Clearly, Paramount is prioritizing this film and has high hopes for a successful China run, but unfortunately the franchise still lacks any semblance of familiarity among Chinese audiences.

CFI predicts a runner-up finish this weekend in the range of RMB 85 million (US$12.6 million). In the end, Never Go Back will live up to its name and gross nearly double its predecessor, but given the market’s expansion since 2012, Paramount shouldn’t be pleased with the performance.


Mechanic: Resurrection (机械师2:复活)

China Distribution – Huaxia Film Distribution Co., Ltd (华夏电影发行有限责任公司)
US Distribution – Summit Entertainment

Whereas Jason Statham pales in terms of Tom Cruise’s box office draw stateside, he is a bona fide action star in China thanks to turns in commercially successful franchises Fast & Furious, The Expendables and The Transporter.

More than a quarter of The Mechanic’s $62 million worldwide gross came from China — despite a year-and-a-half delay in its release — so the territory probably weighed heavily in Summit’s decision to greenlight a sequel.

Statham’s popularity and the addition of Southeast Asian filming locales plus Chinese-Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh will give a boost to The Mechanic: Resurrection’s box office potential in China. CFI predicts an easy victory this weekend with RMB 120 million ($18 million) on route to an impressive RMB 250 million (~$40 million) final gross.