On their first Friday back to operations, Chinese cinemas did roughly $2.92M worth of box office business — more than tripling Thursday’s figures and making a sizable jump from Monday when theaters opened to about $501K in low-risk areas across the country. There was growth throughout the midweeks which is encouraging since less than 40% of the market is up and running, with auditorium capacity limited to 30%.
Friday’s spike is largely down to new Hollywood films being released today — each fronted by stars who are immensely popular in the Middle Kingdom. Universal’s Robert Downey Jr-led Dolittle was No. 1 in the market with local data showing $1.2M from about 3,000 screens.
In normal times this would not be a notable start, but given the current situation and that Dolittle’s China release comes more than seven months after the rest of international rollout began, the film is bound to have been subject to piracy. Chinese audiences are showing they want to go back to the movies, regardless. It also helps that Downey Jr posted a video to local fans on Weibo this week.
In 2nd place today was Sony’s Bloodshot with an estimated $735K. The Vin Diesel-starrer is released locally by Bona. Diesel is also normally a big draw in the Middle Kingdom. Rounding out the Top 5 films, local Christmas hit Sheep Without A Shepherd came in at No. 3, followed by re-releases of Disney/Pixar’s Coco and Dis’ Zootopia.
Ever since word came down that cinemas could reopen, China has been busy dating studio titles across the next several weekends, including re-releases and movies that didn’t previously make it to screens due to being sidelined by COVID-19 closures (as with Dolittle and Bloodshot).
Up next weekend is Paramount’s Sonic The Hedgehog on Friday, along with a reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar on Sunday August 2. Then DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s 1917 bows on August 7 and Sony’s Bad Boys For Life goes August 14.
While some cinemas in Beijing also opened today for the first time, in the coastal city of Dalian, a handful of new coronavirus cases spurred the re-closure of cinemas on Thursday, though only a small number had opened this week.