Sci-fi-comedy “Moon Man” rocketed to a $130 million opening weekend and helped the China box office to escape gravity.

Data from consultancy Artisan Gateway showed that the film scored a three-day gross of RMB873 million ($130 million) and accounted for fully 90% of the market. Nationwide weekend theatrical business hit $144 million, the third highest weekend of the year and the highest non-holiday weekend of 2022.

The strong results came despite some cinemas remaining closed in key cities and capacity limitations remaining in place in others.

“Moon Man” tells the story of “the last human in the universe” as an astronaut finds himself stranded on the moon after an asteroid wipes out life on earth.

It is directed by Zhang Chiyu, who previously directed 2017 sports comedy hit “Never Say Die.”

It was produced by Mahua FunAge, a consistently successful comedy production firm with credits including “Hello Mrs Money” and Goodby Mr Loser,” alongside Alibaba Pictures.

Imax reported that the film earned $6.4 million (including previews) from its theaters in China, making Imax China’s biggest summer three-day opening weekend since September 2019. It also said that Imax theatres accounted for 16 out of the top 20 highest grossing theaters nationwide.

One of the most anticipated Chinese blockbusters of the year, more than 1.4 million movie fans rated Moon Man as a “want to see” on China’s online ticking platforms prior to its release. The film has won outstanding feedback from audiences with a score of 9.4 and 9.5 on Maoyan and Taopiaopiao, respectively. 

“We are very encouraged by the stellar opening of ‘Moon Man,’ which offers a clear sign that audiences are eager to return to theaters for the IMAX Experience,” said Edwin Tan, CEO of IMAX China. ” ‘Moon Man’ marks a critical milestone in the recovery of the film industry this year as well as a major step forward in the production of Chinese sci-fi blockbusters.”

Film crews laid 200 tons of sand and gravel across a 6,000-square-meter space spanning 15 studios and built a full scale model of a lunar base. Approximately 95% of “Moon Man” shots use special and visual effects.

Artisan Gateway reports that China’s year-to-date box office total now stands at $3.09 billion. That is still lagging behind 2021 by 33%, but the stellar start by “Moon Man” accounts for a course correction of two percentage points, compared with the previous 35% drift.

Previous weekend winner, “Detective Vs Sleuths” achieved $3.5 million over the weekend for a total of $98.8 million since release on July 8, 2022. “Lighting up the Stars,” an earlier winner that debuted in June, earned $3.4 million over the latest weekend for a cumulative of $245 million.