China Box Office: ‘Inferno’ Limps to Top Spot in Opening Weekend

Inferno Movie Tom Hanks
Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Inferno” grossed almost as much in its opening weekend in China as it did in North America. Neither performance was strong, but in China at least “Inferno” opened on top of the box office.

“Inferno” scored $12.4 million in its three-day debut weekend on Chinese screens, according to data from Entgroup. In North America it flopped with a second place opening and an estimated weekend gross of $15 million.

At face value the Chinese figure for “Inferno” compares favorably with the $13.2 million run of 2006 release “The Da Vinci Code.” But China’s cinema circuit and overall box office have grown several magnitudes in the decade since Tom Hanks’ Robert Langdon was last seen in Chinese theaters – “Angels & Demons” was not released – and points to a serious under-performance, especially for a day-and-date release.

In second place, new release Chinese comedy drama “Mr. Donkey” earned $8.44 million. In third place after dropping from top, was holdover “The Mechanic.” It earned $7.95 million for a cumulative score of $43.3 million after 10 days.

Another former number one, “Operation Mekong” took $4.80 million. It advanced it cumulative total to $168 million after 31 days.

“Trolls” opened in fifth place with $4.28 million. New release Chinese comedy drama “Xiaoming and his Friends” was the only other title to exceed $1 million over the weekend.

The weak performances by “Inferno,” “Trolls” and “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” – in eighth place with $560,000 in its second weekend, for a total of $8.70 million after 10 days – should make executives ponder whether bringing more Hollywood films into China is expanding the U.S. studios’ collective share of the Chinese market. Cannibalization and audience fatigue may instead be spreading the revenues across more titles and slicing the market thinner.