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‘Valerian’ on Track to Top China Box Office on Friday

Luc Besson’s sci-fi fantasy “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” looks set to open on top of the Chinese box office Friday. It will be the first film to depose theatrical sensation “Wolf Warriors II” in four weeks.

By 5 p.m. local time in China, “Valerian” had scored $5.88 million on its opening day (RMB40 million). Including midnight previews worth a further RMB2 million, it stood on a cumulative gross of RMB42 million.

It claimed a 40% market share ahead of the day’s two other major openers, “Baby Driver” and “Cars 3.” Friday is the first day that foreign films can be given revenue-sharing releases in China in over a month, following the summer blackout period.

The rankings could change as the weekend progresses. Animated titles such as “Cars 3” tend to perform better on Saturdays and Sundays, when parents take their children to the theaters. Similarly, “Wolf Warriors II” was beaten on Friday last week, but put on a stronger showing over subsequent days to win the weekend.

A strong outing in China is imperative for EuropaCorp’s “Valerian,” which has performed poorly in most key markets. But even strong results in China might not be enough for “Valerian” to avoid the status of a flop. It cost an estimated $180 million to produce, but its North American total after four weeks is $39.4 million. In other international territories, its score through Thursday was $93 million, for a global pre-weekend cumulative of $132 million.

China’s Fundamental Films is an investor in both EuropaCorp and in “Valerian.”

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