“Secret Superstar” became the second Indian film to top the Chinese box office in less than a year. Picking up some of the pace of the earlier “Dangal,” “Superstar” grossed $27.0 million in its opening weekend, beating holdover romance “Forever Young” with $23.4 million.
The win for “Superstar” was built on the actor-producer Aamir Khan, who confirmed that he has genuine name recognition and a fan base in China, and a rare revenue-sharing release. Khan is the only performer from the prolific Indian film industry to have such a hold in the world’s most populous nation, and all sorts of Sino-Indian cinematic connections are now being concocted.
Khan is now touring China in order to support the film as it enters the short window ahead of Chinese New Year, which will see a host of local Chinese film releases. That will likely prevent the “Superstar” getting anywhere near the incredible $193 million performance of “Dangal” last year. Earlier this month “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened with $28 million. It earned $910,000 in ninth place this weekend and currently stands at $41 million.
In the near term, Chinese exhibitors are giving “Superstar” their support. It enjoyed a huge 56,000 screenings on Friday, rising to 63,000 on Sunday, according to data from Ent Group. “Forever Young” played 20% fewer screenings, and ended up with a marginally better per screen performance.
Third place belonged to animation “Ferdinand” with $9.27 million in its first weekend of release. The performance was heavily weighted to Saturday and Sunday. It narrowly beat Lionsgate’s “Wonder,” which opened with $8.48 million for fourth place.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” claimed fifth spot, earning $7.72 million. After 10 days, it has a cumulative score of $66.5 million.
“A Better Tomorrow 2018,” a retread of a classic John Woo crime action movie, limped into sixth place. It earned $6.30 million in its opening weekend.
“Guardians of the Tomb,” a Chinese-Australian co-production directed by Kimble Rendall and starring China’s Li Bingbing, could only manage a disappointing seventh place on its opening. Previously titled “Nest,” it enjoyed fourth place on Friday, with $3.22 million, from a 55,000 screening combination close to that of “Secret Superstar.” But its scores dropped on Saturday, and again on Sunday, for a three-day total of $6.11 million as exhibitors cut its screenings to less than 30,000 by Sunday.
Behind it, “The Ex-File: Return of the Exes” added $5.01 million in its fourth weekend of release. After 24-days it has a cumulative of $293 million.