SATURDAY UPDATE: Since cinemas reopened in China’s low-risk areas on July 20, the market today had its biggest day yet. Box office was $5.74M (RMB 40M) overall for the day, according to Maoyan figures. That reps a 38% jump from Friday.
After leading last weekend and the midweeks, then dropping to No. 2 on Friday, Universal’s Dolittle piped back up on Saturday with another $1.45M (+111% over Friday). The cume through today is $10.85M. Local title The Enigma Of Arrival dropped to No. 2 on Saturday and has grossed $2.4M so far.
The situation is expected to change on Sunday with Warner Bros’ reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. The film, which could act as a taster for Tenet’s as-yet undetermined China release, also has an IMAX component and currently looks like it will will be the top title tomorrow.
As we have previously noted, that Interstellar has a runtime of 169 minutes means the initial local restrictions on films over two hours in the current climate is easing. However, we also understand that intermissions are being mandated for such lengthy movies in certain areas. It is unclear if the aim is to re-sanitize auditoria during the breaks, but even that process would prolong the time audiences are in the cinemas and perhaps circulating while they wait.
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY: China’s second Friday with cinemas back to business in low-risk areas rang up another $4M at local turnstiles, a 39% increase versus the same day last week. About 60% of movie theaters are now operating, with capacity limits and social distancing still in place, so all numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt, though they are encouraging.
This is certainly not China as we once knew it, but there are signs of appetite for new local and Hollywood releases. It has been good to see relatively flat midweek days after last Sunday’s high-water mark of $5M+. From last Friday to this Friday (inclusive), post-coronavirus box office in the Middle Kingdom is at about $27M. That does not include the toe-in-the-water reopened days in the market (July 20-23), but tacking those on, the overall number rises to about $30M.
Universal’s Dolittle, which held the No. 1 spot since debuting last Friday, saw good midweek play and today slotted into 2nd place with a running cume of $9.4M. It has a Douban score of 5.7 and a Maoyan note of 8.2 and should hit $10M this weekend. That would make China the No. 3 offshore market on the expensive Robert Downey Jr-starrer, behind the UK and Korea.
Middle Kingdom play so far this session is led by new local title The Enigma Of Arrival which was originally scheduled to bow over the Valentine’s Day frame but was sidelined by COVID. The Song Wen-directed suspense drama kicked off with about $1.35M on Friday. While it’s carrying just a 5 on Douban, it’s got a better 7.5 on Maoyan and its lead today points to the hunger for new, and local, titles. The story sees a group of college friends reunite for the first time since the disappearance of a girl they all secretly pined after.
Also new in China is another local movie, the animated Mr Miao (Miao Xian Sheng), a tale of good and evil, which came in at No. 3 with about $416K through today.
New from the studios, Paramount’s Sonic The Hedgehog was slower off the starting block on Friday with $315K from about 5,560 locations, and despite a better Douban score than Dolittle (6.1 v 5.7). Business could pick up over the weekend, but given this film skews younger there’s perhaps concern on the part of families about trotting the tots out just yet. Searchlight’s Oscar winner Jojo Rabbit was another new Hollywood title, debuting with about $165K today — and a strong 8.4 on Douban as well as what we understand was the highest per screen of the openers. Warner Bros will unspool a reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar with an IMAX component in China on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Korea is still going strong, welcoming new local action drama Steel Rain 2: Summit which has grossed just shy of $3.3M since opening on Wednesday. It elbowed runaway Train To Busan sequel Peninsula to the No. 2 spot on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Peninsula has a Korea cume of $23.5M so far according to Kobiz. After reaching $35.8M across 7 markets (including Korea) last weekend, the movie is primed to hit $40M before it releases domestically via Well Go on August 7. It is already the top grossing movie of 2020 in Singapore.
Elsewhere this weekend, Russell Crowe-starrer Unhinged opens in the UK via Altitude. Russia, which last weekend had only about 6% of its theaters open, is due to get a boost as the Karo Cinemas circuit is reopening all of its Moscow locations starting tomorrow. All remaining Karo cinemas throughout St. Petersburg and the regions will reopen between August 16 and September 1. The exhibitor says it is showing all new films, including local titles Happy End, Widow and Cosmobol (local pics accounted for 22% of overall box office in 2019). Non-Russian upcoming new releases include Unhinged, Peninsula, Ava, My Spy and Escape From Pretoria.
And, finally, some good news out of Spain: Cinemas in Barcelona have been allowed to reopen after being ordered shut mid-month owing to new clusters of the virus. And that’s just in time for what’s shaping up to be a local smash: Padre No Hay Más Que Uno 2 (Father There Is Only One 2) taking 70% market share at open.
We’ll update more from the international box office throughout the weekend.