Sunday February 17, 2019
Box Office: China's ‘Wandering Earth’ Soars
Boldly going where only Hollywood has gone before.
The big box office news is the lack of it in America and the plethora of it in China.
That’s a bit to be expected. Chinese New Year began Feb. 5 and it’s one of the most lucrative weeks for Chinese movies. Last year’s two biggest films, “Operation Red Sea” and “Detective Chinatown 2,” were both released during Chinese New Year. However, this year’s juggernaut, “The Wandering Earth,” a sci-fi thriller about a jet-propelled planet seeking a new solar system, has already surpassed them. After 14 days, it’s grossed $561 million, making it the second highest-grossing film in Chinese history. Ahead of it is just “Wolf Warrior II,” which grossed $870 million in the summer of 2017.
Meanwhile, in America, there’s no “Black Panther” to propel the box office, just the CGIed “Alita: Battle Angel”—which won the weekend with $27 mil—and a few V-Day holdovers: the anti-rom-com rom-com “Isn’t It Romantic,” which finished in third place with $14 mil, and the horrorific “Happy Death Day 2U,” which finished fifth with $10. The second weekend of the underperforming “LEGO” sequel finished second with $21 mil (for a cumulative $62, less than the first grossed in three days), while the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want” finished fourth with $10.9, for a two-weekend total of $36.
If all that sounds a bit blah, the box office reflects it. According to Box Office Mojo, it was the weakest Presidents Day weekend since 2004.
So while the disparity between Chinese and U.S. markets is to be expected, given the time of year, everything else has been exacerbated. The Chinese are getting what they’ve never seen before—high-production Chinese sci-fi—while Americans are getting same old same old and opting for other means of entertainment. Maybe they’re studying Chinese?
For anyone worried about U.S. box office, don't. “Captain Marvel” opens March 8.