China Box Office: ‘The Batman’ Whooping $12.1M Opening

With cinemas closing in response to a COVID outbreak and local interest in Hollywood moviemaking on the wane, the Warner Bros blockbuster will earn a fraction of past superhero grosses in China.
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'The Batman' COURTESY OF JONATHAN OLLEY/DC COMICS

‘The Batman’ $12.1M Opening

Warner Bros.’ The Batman saw its global earnings blitz slow to a crawl in China over the weekend, with the Matt Reeves directed blockbuster opening to just $12.1 million. That’s the biggest Hollywood opening in China this year, but not much to brag about. A COVID-19 outbreak and sinking Chinese interest in Hollywood moviemaking were to blame.

Local word of mouth for the brooding-superhero pic was solid — social scores of 7.7 on Douban and 8.9 from major ticketing apps Maoyan and Tao Piao Piao — but fan recognition didn’t translate into significant ticket sales. Maoyan currently projects The Batman to finish its China run with a total of only $26 million.

Analysts estimate that somewhere between 30 percent and 43 percent of Chinese movie theaters were closed last weekend, as the country battles its worst Omicron outbreak to date. Most cinemas in the major cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen were closed, as were theaters in a smattering of other areas nationwide.

But even before the cinema shutdowns, The Batman had only been tracking for a $25 million-plus opening, which would fall on the far low end of what well-reviewed Hollywood superhero films were earning in China until just a few years ago.

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Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, for exampled, earned $52.8 million way back in 2012, when China had about a third as many movie screens as it has today. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice then earned $95.8 million in 2016, which was bettered by Justice League in 2017 with $106 million.

Sony’s Uncharted has similarly sputtered in China. The Tom Holland-starring action film added just $4 million during the weekend for a $10.4 million total after six days on Chinese screens, according to Artisan Gateway data. Maoyan forecasts the film to top out at about $15 million. The film already has earned twice that in the U.K.

Further down the charts, China’s Lunar New Year holdovers continued adding to their comparatively colossal earnings. Bona Film Group’s The Battle of Lake Changjin 2 climbed to $638.4 million, adding $1.6 million in the latest frame. Comedy caper Too Cool to Kill took another $1 million for a $412.9 million gross.

Summary

The next Hollywood titles headed to China include Roland Emmerich’s action film Moonfall (March 25), Sony’s animation sequel Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (April 3) and Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (April 8).

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