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China Box Office: ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Roars to Top With $101 Million Debut

Revving up against a line-up completely devoid of serious competitors, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” roared to the top of China’s box office with a $101 million debut, figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway show — more than four times the haul of the weekend’s second highest grossing title.

China is one of the franchise’s biggest fanbases in the world, and success in the territory can make or break a “Fast & Furious” film. The last two installments made more in China than they did in the U.S., with “The Fate of the Furious” bringing home a whopping $167 million more from mainland theaters than those at home.

“Hobbs & Shaw” similarly needs a win in China because — thanks to a a huge $200 million production budget and more than $125 million spent on distribution — analysts calculate that it must make $600 million globally in order to break even. It has made $148 million in North America so far after since its Aug. 2 debut on home turf.

The spin-off is projected to bring in $199 million (RMB1.42 billion) in China over the full course of its theatrical run, according to data from the Maoyan ticketing platform. This tally would make it China’s 35th most successful title at the box office, just behind 2015’s “Jurassic World” and just ahead of “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” as well as the thirteenth most successful foreign film in the territory. It also would mean that the film made about half of its total China cume in just its first three days.

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Between 51 and 53% of all screenings in China that took place over the weekend were for “Hobbs & Shaw,” according to Maoyan, which also showed that no less than 62% of ticket sales each day were for the film.

It brought in $8.6 million through Imax at the weekend, playing on 623 screens. This makes “Hobbs & Shaw” the biggest China Imax opening weekend for a film in August, beating “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” which debuted to $7.1 million last year, and the second biggest Imax China opening for a “Fast & Furious” franchise film, behind 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious.”

It’s nothing to scoff at, but it’s still a far cry from the success of its franchise predecessors, with “The Fate of the Furious” and “Furious 7” both earning around $390 million and ranking as the second and third most successful foreign films of all time in China.

Part of the problem is lackluster word of mouth. “Hobbs & Shaw” received an aggregate rating of just 6.4 out of 10 on the key platform Douban, and a more generous 8.6 and 8.5 out of ten respectively on the more populist Maoyan and Tao Piaopiao ticketing platforms. On Maoyan, it was slightly higher rated among women than men, and did best among viewers under the age of 20.

“No speed and no passion, just two bald guys long-windedly mouthing off,” wrote one top Douban user response. Many comments expressed disappointment that it felt like the film had lost elements from the earlier franchise films that made the series special, and instead made it feel more like a superhero movie.

Nevertheless, Chinese viewers love both Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson — enough to catapult the latter’s critically panned “Skyscraper” to success last summer. It took home $98.4 million from China — $30 million more than it made in the U.S. 

“Every time I come to China the energy is always spectacular,” Johnson said Friday in a video posted to his four million followers on Weibo, China’s Twitter-equivalent. He added: “Growth within the Chinese market has long been a goal very dear to me, through our films and beyond.”

“Hobbs & Shaw” knocked Chinese animated film “Nezha” from its longstanding perch as the king of the summer box office. The title has already been in theaters for 32 days, but still came in second with a weekend gross of $22.7 million, according to figures from Artisan Gateway. Its cumulative is now at $640 million, making it China’s third top-grossing title of all time, just behind February’s sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth.”

In third was the patriotic title “The Bravest,” a firefighter rescue film from Bona Film Group and Sony. It took in a further $6.1 million this week for a cume of $224 million, making it China’s 27th highest grossing film ever.

The Angry Birds Movie 2” from Rovio Entertainment came in fourth with just $2 million in ticket sales. It has now grossed $16.6 million in China, Artisan Gateway said. Chinese drama “Remain Silent,” directed by newcomer female director Zhou Ke, came in fifth with $2 million in its debut weekend.

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