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‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Stalls Out as China Box Office Slumps

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” has essentially stalled out in its third weekend in China, earning just $10 million despite being up against one of the weakest lineups of the year.

The combined star power of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham did not prove enough to keep viewers’ attention despite a total lack of competitors, with Universal’s flick coming in second behind a new Chinese animation and only just ahead of “Nezha,” another local animated title that’s already been in theaters for 46 days. 

“Hobbs & Shaw” is projected to bring in only another $7 million (RMB50 million) or so over the rest of its run, according to data from Maoyan. Nevertheless, figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway show that its total China tally of $186.1 million still exceeds its U.S. haul of $164 million.

China’s total box office this weekend was particularly low at just $41.8 million. “The Legend of Hei” led the lackluster pack with just $11.9 million in ticket sales, accumulated over two rather than three days thanks to a Saturday debut, according to figures from  Artisan Gateway. Produced by Jiyin Yinghua Pictures, it tells the tale of a big-eyed black cat who rose to popularity as a series of emojis on the ubiquitous Chinese social media platform Wechat.

Nezha,” this summer’s surprise blockbuster hit, came in third with $7.9 million. It is now China’s second-highest grossing title of all time, with a total box office haul now of $674 million (RMB4.81 billion), according to data from Maoyan.

The Oscar-winning documentary “Free Solo,” which follows the mind-bending exploits of rock climber Alex Honnold as he seeks to summit one of the world’s most difficult routes without ropes, made $2.9 million in its debut, making it this weekend’s fourth most successful film. That three-day tally, though small by China standards, is already enough to make the China the film’s most successful foreign territory, beating out Germany, where it earned $1.36 million. It grossed $17.5 million at home in the U.S. last year.

In fifth place was Indian sci-fi film “2.0,” which was counting on the China market to bolster returns on the lavish production, the most expensive Indian film ever created. Yet despite combining two trendy elements that have shot other recent films to the top of China’s box office, it is clearly failing to go where local sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth” and Indian films like “Dangal” and “Secret Superstar” have gone before it.

Made on a reported budget of more than $75 million, it grossed a paltry $2.5 million in its China debut, despite debuting on 48,000 screens. It came out last year on just 10,000 in India, yet managed to make around $78.6 million there, enough to become India’s second-highest grossing film of all time.

Directed by Shankar and starring Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar, it was distributed in China by Star Alliance. It grossed $4.15 million last November in the U.S.

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