‘Valerian’ Leads International Box Office After China Ends Summer Blackout

After its ill-fated release in North America and most foreign territories, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” looked to China as its final hope.

Now, the Middle Kingdom’s summer blackout period has come to an end, and EuropaCorp’s “Valerian” has ended the weekend on top. Luc Besson’s $180 million sci-fi epic — considered to be the most expensive independent film ever made — grossed $32.8 million from 32 international territories (including China) this weekend.

“Valerian’s” Chinese debut compares unfavorably to almost every other summer blockbuster — higher than “Alien: Covenant” ($28.2 million), but less than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” ($48.6 million); “Pirates of the Caribbean” ($65.9 million); “Wonder Woman” ($37.7 million); “Transformers” ($119.6 million); and others.

The figure is higher than Besson’s last entry in China, “Lucy,” which debuted to $20 million. “Lucy,” granted, has out-earned “Valerian” by nearly every other metric, including domestic gross (“Lucy,” $126.6 million; “Valerian,” $39.4 million).

Analysts believe “Valerian’s” break-even point is over $400 million globally. Its current worldwide earnings stand at just $163.8 million.

The other two new releases in China this weekend are “Baby Driver” and “Cars 3.” Disney and Pixar’s threequel earned $10.8 million in China and $13.4 million overall from 27 international markets. Sony’s indie hit took in $10.5 million from China and $15.3 million from 50 overseas territories.

Meanwhile, China’s “Wolf Warriors II,” which benefitted from the blackout period by raking in a record-breaking sum during its first few weekends, continues to play well. This weekend it will come away with $15.8 million from six international territories. It’s worldwide cume now stands at $815 million.

Otherwise, “Annabelle: Creation” has cleared the $200 million mark worldwide for Warner Bros. The horror sequel earned $22 million from 61 international territories, putting it in second behind “Valerian.”

“Tad Jones: The Hero Returns” is the only new international player. It opened in one territory and earned $2.8 million.

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