A censored version of “Once Upon A Deadpool” took top honors during a quiet weekend at the Chinese box office. It earned $22.3 million in its opening three days, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway.
The figure was achieved from a huge 32,000 screens, or more than half China’s nationwide total. It earned 39% of the weekend’s modest aggregate takings, which Artisan Gateway pegged at just $56.9 million.
The film’s top ranking points to opportunistic release timing, that took advantage of a slack market. There was evidently consumer curiosity in the first “Deadpool” title to get a Middle Kingdom release. But the film seems unlikely to have great staying power, against the upcoming onslaught of Chinese titles being released for Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival).
One of those Chinese titles, Fantawild Animation Studios’ “Boonie Bears: Blast Into the Past,” jumped the gun with another session of previews, worth $3.6 million this weekend, and good enough for fifth place. Set to release on Feb. 5, the film, the sixth in the “Boonie Bears” franchise, has already banked $5.8 million.
Second place this weekend belonged to Lightchaser Animation’s “White Snake,” In its third week of release the film is holding strongly. It earned $9.9 million, just 4% down on the previous weekend score. After 17 days on release, it has slithered to a $43.9 million cumulative.
“Bumblebee,” which is the top scoring film of the month, took $7 million in its fifth weekend. That advances its cumulative to $156 million, fully one third of all Chinese theatrical revenues this month. “Escape Room,” earned $6.1 million on its second weekend in China, down 28% from its opening. After 10-days, it has accumulated $22.2 million.
Artisan Gateway shows the cumulative box office total so far this year at $450 million. That is down 33% compared with the $671 million recorded this time last year. But direct comparisons should be treated with caution, given the variable timing (and scale) of Spring Festival releases, and revisited at the end of February.