“Oppenheimer” landed on top of the mainland China cinema box office with an impressive score for a Hollywood movie in the current climate. More typically, gaming adaptation “Gran Turismo” failed to get far off the start line.
While most films open in China on Fridays, Christopher Nolan’s nuclear opus was given a wide release from Wednesday.
It scored $21.3 million (RMB154 million) over the conventional Friday to Sunday weekend and $30.7 million (RMB221 million) over its opening five days, according to data from consultancy firm Artisan Gateway. Local data providers show that the film topped the charts on all five days of its run.
Universal Pictures reports that the film opened on 35,000 screens at 11,000 locations in China, including 761 Imax venues.
Local data providers estimate that, in contrast, “Gran Turismo” made just $1.2 million over its more conventional three-day getaway.
Universal claimed that “Oppenheimer” enjoyed the third biggest Hollywood opening this year behind established franchise movies “Fast X” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.” Like-for-like comparisons of the first (Friday to Sunday) weekend show “Oppenheimer” opening bigger than titles including “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and “Barbie.”
Universal said that this is the second biggest opening for a Nolan film in the Chinese market, trailing “Interstellar” by 17%. Imax said that “Oppenheimer’s”: “736 Imax screens accounted for one third of the total opening in the Middle Kingdom.”
The strong performance came despite significant pre-release questions about the interest levels of Chinese audiences, which have cooled towards Hollywood titles in the COVID and post-COVID eras.
Some critics focused on the film’s length, its unknown central character and the difficulty of the subject matter. Others worried that its negative references to Communism would be another drag.
However, viewer ratings show a highly appreciative audience. Spectators rating the film on the Taopiapiao ticketing playform gave it a 9.6 out of 10 score. Those on rival platform Maoyan rated it 9.5. And those on film appreciation website Douban gave it a hefty 8.9 out of ten.
Maoyan is forecasting that the film will gross RMB451 million ($62 million) over the full length of its run in China.
Over the latest weekend, box office sensation “No More Bets” slipped to second place, but added $15.5 million to its credit. Its cumulative total after five weeks on release is $505 million.
“Papa,” in its third weekend, placed third and earned $7.6 million. Its cumulative since release on Aug. 18 is now $76.3 million.
“Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms” was fourth with $6.2 million over the weekend. Its cumulative score, built since July 20, is now $351 million.
“The Woman in the Storm” notched $2 million over the weekend for a three-weekend cumulative of $21.8 million.
While the latest weekend box office aggregate was only $60 million, the weekend brought up the $6 billion year-to-date total, according Artisan Gateway. That is only 5% behind the 2019 equivalent.
The firm shows that China’s box office in August was worth $1.1 billion (RMB7.8 billion), an 11% deficit compared with August 2019. Chinese titles, “No More Bets,” “Lost in the Stars” and “Creation of the Gods I” were the month’s highest performers. With “Meg 2,” a China-U.S. co-production that did not need to be formally imported, the market remained heavily dominated by Chinese titles. These claimed an 84% market share, compared with 16% for imported titles, according to Artisan Gateway.
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