Universal pic nabs $2 million on opening day

“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” has shown plenty of life in its Chinese launch, drawing $2 million at 1,158 playdates in its opening day.

Universal said Tuesday’s debut set a record for the studio’s best-ever launch in China and matched the first-day gross for local successes such as “Forbidden Kingdom” and “Warlord.”

Foreign grosses for the third “Mummy” pic have topped $245 million — far above the domestic take, currently just short of $100 million. Russia’s been the top market with $27.3 million, followed by South Korea with $26.4 million and the U.K. with $21 million.

Chinese authorities approved the release in mid-July after seeking slight revisions in the pic (Daily Variety, July 16).

The film involved prolonged collaboration with the China Film Co-production Corp. beginning at the script stage and continuing throughout production. Lensing took in national treasures including the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall; the sequel has a significant local cast headed by Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Isabella Leong and Anthony Wong.

The “Mummy” franchise has been an overseas success story for Universal with foreign grosses near $750 million. “Tomb of the Dragon Emporer” has already eclipsed the final international cume for 2002’s “The Mummy Returns” at $230 million and should soon pass the final number for 1999’s “The Mummy” at $260 million.

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