“X-Men: Dark Phoenix” may have notched the worst opening weekend in the franchise’s history in the U.S., but it led China’s box office with $32.1 million over the country’s three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday weekend, debuting last Thursday, a day before its U.S. release.
The film’s China opening is nearly on par with its $33 million bow in the U.S., and accounts for almost 30% of its global box office so far – highlighting just how dependent Hollywood tentpoles have become on the Middle Kingdom.
The film has been panned by Western critics, who have given it a dismal 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. In China, it received just 7.7, 7.2 and 6 out of 10 on the key user review platforms Maoyan, Tao Piaopiao and Douban, respectively. Many fans expressed disappointment despite their love of an imagined bromance between characters Magneto and Professor X. The film’s marketing team nonetheless put out an impressive China-specific poster featuring the mutant Jean Grey flying through a Chinese landscape painting-style backdrop alongside a phoenix, a creature common in Chinese mythology.
Legendary Pictures’ “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” came in second with $23.9 million, bringing its cumulative China box office total to $112 million since its May 31 debut.
Two other Chinese films that debuted last Thursday in time for the holiday took third and fourth: local rom-com “My Best Summer,” with $21.5 million, and “Chasing the Dragon 2: Wild Wild Bunch,” a crime drama starring Louis Koo and Tony Leung Ka Fai , which took in $20.3 million. Disney’s “Aladdin” came in a far-behind fifth with $5.5 million, bringing its total haul after more than two weeks to $48.4 million.
On Monday, “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” was ranked eighth at the box office, behind Indian drama “Kaabil” and a Japanese animated film about the popular Doraemon character. Yet late last week, “Pokemon” was granted an extension to play in Chinese theaters till July 9. It had earned $91.3 million (RMB633 million) in the country as of early Monday evening since its May 10 debut, but the Maoyan platform predicts it will bring just another $649,000 by the end of its two-month run. Nevertheless, its presence in theaters might make up for a dearth of local content caused by a production slowdown in the wake of last year’s tax crackdown.