Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix Resurrections” opened number one this weekend at the China box office thanks to $7.5 million in sales, according to data from the Artisan Gateway consultancy.
China’s national box office for 2022 is already off to a slow start, and currently sits at 15% below the same period last year. The country is currently struggling to contain the new threat of the omicron COVID-19 variant ahead of the upcoming Beijing Olympic games. As of Sunday, some 14 provinces had reported local omicron cases, including the cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Cinemas in high-risk areas like Tianjin and Xi’an have been closed for days, while those still operating in the country remain at 75% maximum capacity.
That’s bad news for exhibitors, who have been left for weeks without strong Hollywood content to get their turnstiles spinning. The Matrix franchise, like “Star Wars” and unlike the more recent Marvel Comic Universe, does not have a meaningful foothold in popular Chinese culture. “The Matrix Resurrections” is currently expected to gross a total of $15.2 million, according forecasts from the Maoyan ticketing platform.
The first three films in the trilogy played in China at a time when the country’s total box office capacity was much smaller than today. In 2000, “The Matrix” grossed $2.68 million (RMB17 million), while “The Matrix Reloaded“ and “The Matrix Revolutions” each grossed $6.77 million (RMB43 million) apiece in 2003.
Paramount’s “Paw Patrol: The Movie” also debuted over the most recent weekend, grossing $3.6 million in its first three days in theaters. It placed fifth.
It came in behind three local titles. In second place this week was the patriotic pandemic-set film “Embrace Again,” which grossed $6.8 million, Artisan Gateway reported. It has now grossed a cumulative $127 million since its New Year’s Eve debut. Trailing behind it was crime thriller “G Storm” from Mingzhao Film and TV, which earned a further $4.2 million this weekend to bring its cume up to $85 million. Just a touch behind was the local comedy “Another Me,” which grossed $4.1 million, bringing its current haul to $59.2 million.