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China Box Office: ‘Venom’ $102 Million Opening Juices Slack Theatrical Market

Tom Hardy-starring “Venom” injected some much-needed juice into the Chinese box office, with a blockbuster $102 million first weekend opening. The film crushed other new releases and holdovers alike.

Data from Artisan Gateway, which excludes online ticketing fees, shows the superhero film gobbling up 73% of the entire Chinese box office this weekend. Second-placed Japanese animation, “Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer,” took $10.6 million, or a 7.5% share.

The strong performance of “Venom” is a useful fillip for the Chinese theatrical market, which has suffered a string of sub-$100 million cumulative totals by the top-10 films for the previous nine weekends. The aggregate box office leaped to $140 million, giving a year-to-date total of $7.3 billion, about 9% ahead of the same point last year.

The weekend score for “Venom” is the fifth-biggest opening by any film this year in China and the third-biggest outside the Chinese New Year period. The immediate comparison is with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” which opened on a similar $111 million and went on to earn $261 million in China.

The “Venom” score is also the second-biggest opening for a superhero film in China, the fifth-biggest debut for an imported film, and the biggest opening in China for a Sony title. (In China the release is handled by state-owned enterprises China Film Co. and Huaxia Distribution.)

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The score was achieved thanks to an enormous Saturday performance of some $43 million, and an expansion of its daily screenings from 166,000 on Friday to 188,000 on Saturday and Sunday. They included 553 Imax screens, which enjoyed a three-day gross of about $10 million. That was Imax’s eighth-best opening weekend score in China.

In third place this weekend was “The Hurricane Heist,” with a gross of $5.4 million. The U.S. title has a cumulative of $11.9 million after 10 days on release.

In fourth place was the top-ranked Chinese film, “Last Letter,” a romance starring Zhou Xun. It earned $5.4 million in its opening three days.

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” from Disney, earned $3.6 million in its second weekend. After 10 days on release, it has amassed $14.5 million.

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