Sunday May 07, 2017

Box Office: Which Hollywood Movies Gross More in China?

Fate of the Furious: Chinese poster

“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” opened to $145 mil in the U.S. this weekend, which is about $50 mil more than the original grossed opening weekend August 2014, but it's not exactly earth-shattering. It's the 17th-best opener ever, and the second-best this year, (after “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened at $174 back in March). But at this point, for this type of film, if it doesn't break $150, or $160, it's hardly news. It's Mike Trout batting .300 and hitting 30 HRs. It's what it's supposed to do.

“The Fate of the Furious” finished second. A distant second: $8 mil in its fourth weekend. The film cost $250 to produce and has earned back only $207 in the U.S., which would seem to be a failure. Except, of course, it's grossed nearly $1 billion abroad. In China alone, its receipts ($374 million) nearly double what it's grabbed in the U.S.

This is an increasingly common phenomenon: the Hollywood blockbuster making more in China than in the U.S. Here's a chart of Hollywood movies that have done that since 2014:

Movie Year China U.S. %
Furious 7 2015 $390,910,000 $353,007,020 1.11
The Fate of the Furious 2017 $373,921,406 $207,136,495 1.81
Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014 $320,000,000 $245,439,076 1.30
Warcraft 2016 $213,541,452 $47,365,290 4.51
The Great Wall* 2016 $170,962,106 $45,157,105 3.79
Kong: Skull Island 2017 $168,384,464 $165,792,080 1.02
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage 2017 $164,066,583 $44,898,413 3.65
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter 2017 $159,548,686 $26,830,068 5.95
Kung Fu Panda 3 2016 $154,304,371 $143,528,619 1.08
Terminator: Genisys 2015 $113,175,898 $89,760,956 1.26

* Joint Hollywood/China production

Overall, it seems like a film festival in hell. It's sequel-laden with a focus on mechanized power: the musclecars of the “Furious” movies; Transformers and Terminators.

It's particularly interesting noting the movies that die here and are reborn there: “Warcraft,” which is a video game thing; “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” (they love Vin more than we do), and the most recent “Resident Evil,” which, in China, grossed nearly twice as much as “Beauty and the Beast” ($85 mil).

So are these sequels new to them and old-hat to us? Do they flock to the familiar more than we do? I have no answers, just questions.

China also has its huge homegrown blockbusters as well: the “Journey to the West” cycle, randy comedies like “Breakup Buddies,” and particularly “The Mermaid,” its first half a billion domestic grosser from last year. So far, none of these travel the way Hollywood movies travel. Will be interesting to see if they ever do. Would be interesting to see how the world changes.

Posted at 10:13 AM on Sunday May 07, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office  
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