×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China Box Office: ‘Dragon’ Flies; ‘Green Book’ Authors $17 Million Debut

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” flew off with the weekend box office win in China, clipping the wings of “Alita: Battle Angel,” which had reigned for just one week. Oscar-winner “Green Book” also opened impressively, placing third.

“Dragon” earned $33 million, according to data from exhibition and distribution consultancy Artisan Gateway, having opened on some 10,000 screens. That was Universal’s third-biggest debut weekend for an animated film, and the third-largest a for DreamWorks Animation title in China, behind “Kung Fu Panda” Parts 2 and 3.

“Alita” dropped by 62% from its opening weekend to score $24 million. The performance was enough to lift it to a 10-day cumulative of $113 million.

The Imax China network grossed a combined total of $4.3 million, with about $2.4 million from “Alita” and $2 million for “Dragon 3.”

The weekend’s surprise was “Green Book,” which defied conventional wisdom that Chinese audiences don’t warm to films with black leading actors and scored $17.4 million. That is already higher than the lifetime score of previous best-film Oscar winner “The Shape of Water.”

“Green Book” is partially backed, and was certainly boosted by, Alibaba Pictures, which is an investor in the film’s producer, Amblin Pictures. Audience reactions were highly favorable. It earned record-equaling scores of 9.6 out of 10 on the Maoyan ticketing site, and saw its earnings jump from $3.8 million on Friday to $9.6 million on Saturday.

In fourth place, “The Wandering Earth” added $13.6 million in its fifth weekend of release to lift its cumulative to $678 million. Its ticket sales total passed 100 million, only the second film in the modern era of Chinese cinema to do so.

A long way off, “Pegasus” took fifth place with $2.4 million. Like “The Wandering Earth,” it was a Chinese New Year release that has played on. Its cumulative now stands at $254 million.

With the first two months of the year now completed, including the Lunar New Year holiday (whose dates shift within January and February from year to year), a meaningful look can be taken at year-on-year trends. Data from Artisan Gateway shows the year-to-date box office at $2.25 billion. That is about 5.7% below last year’s $2.39 billion figure.

That is likely to be a worry for Chinese film distributors and exhibitors, as the number of screens now in operation is several thousand higher than 2018. That implies that margins and per-screen average occupancy have returned to the weakening trend observed at the end of 2018.

Last year, policymakers responded to this weakness – and successfully engineered their target of nearly 10% growth – by allowing the number of imported films to significantly exceed the revenue-sharing quota norms. Additionally, Chinese studios appear unwilling to open their biggest films outside the four or five major holiday periods. That leaves the field open for more imports, longer runs for hit films, and for more surprises, such as “Green Book.”

More Film

  • Q&A With Juan Villegas on ‘Las

    Argentina’s Juan Villegas on ‘Las Vegas,’ Featuring at Cannes’ ACID

    CANNES – Buenos Aires’ director-producer Juan Villegas presented his debut “Saturday” at the Venice Festival and won awards at the Rotterdam and Sarajevo film festivals. “Suicidals” screened at San Sebastián. “Idleness,” his third feature, co-directed with Alejando Lingenti, screened at the Berinale. Produced by Salvador del Solar at Argentina’s Cepa Audiovisual and by Villegas’ production [...]

  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh

    Christopher Nolan's New Film Casts Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh

    Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh will appear in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film, “Tenet,” led by John David Washington. Clémence Poésy, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine are also joining the cast that includes Washington as well as Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson. “Tenet,” which is being filmed on location across seven countries, is an action epic evolving [...]

  • Cannes Placeholder Red Carpet

    Eddie Peng, Ma Sichun Join Ann Hui's 'Love After Love'

    Eddie Peng (“Operation Mekong” “The Hidden Man”) will head the cast of “Love After Love” the new film by Hong Kong’s Ann Hui. He plays opposite Ma Sichun (“The Shadow Play,” “Soul Mate”). The picture, which started shooting on Wednesday in China, is the story of a young woman from Shanghai who travels to Hong [...]

  • 'Matthias & Maxime' Review: Xavier Dolan's

    Cannes Film Review: 'Matthias & Maxime'

    If there’s one term that Xavier Dolan probably never wants or needs to hear again, it’s “enfant terrible.” Irresistible to use when the Québécois auteur was 19, rattling out of the gate with his antsy, angry lash-out of a debut, “I Killed My Mother,” it’s followed him doggedly through a series of variously spiky, variably [...]

  • Cannes: Agoraphobia Drama '522' Sells to

    Cannes: Agoraphobia Comedy-Drama '522' Sells to South Korea (EXCLUSIVE)

    Media Luna New Films has sold South Korean rights for comedy-drama “522. A Cat, a Chinese Guy and My Father” to Laon-I at Cannes. The film tells the story of George, an agoraphobic young woman who can’t walk more than 522 steps from her home. One day, her cat forces her to embark on a [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' to Soar Above Box Office Competition Over Memorial Day Weekend

    When Disney first released “Aladdin” in 1992, Bill Clinton was just settling in to the Oval Office, “Game of Thrones” wasn’t much more than a book idea percolating in the mind of author George R.R. Martin, and Johnny Carson was wrapping up his stint as “Tonight Show” host. In some ways, 2019 feels like a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content