Box Office: Chinese Crowds Lifting ‘Terminator Genisys’ Into Hit Territory

“Terminator Genisys” is clawing its way from flop territory into profitable terrain thanks to a big lift from Chinese audiences.

The critically derided cyborg sequel has earned a disappointing $89.4 million in the U.S., but it’s putting up huge numbers in the People’s Republic. The fifth film in the “Terminator” series topped foreign charts for the second weekend in a row, with the bulk of its $23.6 million overseas gross coming from China. It has made nearly as much there in eight days of release as it did in its entire stateside run, picking up $82.8 million.

“Terminator Genisys” is the latest domestic dud to get rescued by foreign audiences, joining the likes of “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Pacific Rim” among the saved. As Scott Mendelson points out in Forbes, foreign returns essentially justified sequels to those films and other pictures like “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” that either tanked or underwhelmed in the states. Will there be a “Terminator 6”?

One caveat is that studios get a smaller percentage of ticket sales from Chinese exhibitors — they typically split receipts with U.S. theater owners but Chinese chains only surrender about 25% of revenues. Paramount and Skydance Pictures backed “Terminator Genisys,” which carries as $155 million price tag. It has earned $409.3 million worldwide.

Another Chinese release, “The Hundred Regiments Offensive,” was right behind on the charts, picking up $16.2 million. The war epic examines a key battle between Communist Chinese forces and Japan during World War II.

In third place, Paramount and Skydance’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” racked up $15.3 million, pushing its global total to $471.1 million. A China debut on Sept. 8 could give earnings a boost, though the film may fall short of the franchise record set by “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’s” $694.7 million haul.

The top five was rounded out by Universal and Illuminaton Entertainment’s “Minions” with $14.9 million and Chinese Crime film “The Dead End” with $14 million. Last week, “Minions” became the fourth film this year to cross $1 billion globally, joining “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Furious 7,” and “Jurassic World” in the ten figures club.

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