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‘The Martian’ Soars to $50.1 Million Opening in China

The Martian” rocketed to $50.1 million in China this weekend, demonstrating that it pays to have the world’s second-largest film market play a key role in a picture’s plot.

In the film, China’s space program gives critical aid to NASA that allows the governmental organization to bring a stranded astronaut (Matt Damon) back to earth. Other films, such as “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” have shot in China or included Chinese actors — a series of nods to the People’s Republic that historically has paid off at ticket booths.

“If you include China in your film it goes a long way at the box office,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “People say that jingoism goes a long way in America. Well, it does in other countries too and we’ll probably see more of it going forward.”

Fox released the science-fiction adventure, which has gone on to make $545.1 million globally. It easily ranks as the highest-grossing film of director Ridley Scott’s career, passing the $457.6 million made by “Gladiator.” It’s also the best performing film to star Damon, pushing ahead of “The Bourne Ultimatum” ($442.8 million).

The Martian’s” opening topped Chinese charts, and outranks previous outer-space themed films like “Gravity” and “Interstellar,” positioning it well for the future. Japan will be the final market where it opens when it debuts in February, 2016.

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Despite the massive results, “The Martian” wasn’t the highest-grossing film at the foreign box office. That honor went to “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” with $62 million. The final film in the futuristic franchise has made $440.7 million in global ticket sales.

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