Refresh for latest…: As with domestic, a pair of new studio offerings opened at the international box office this weekend. However, the biggest grosses came from local pics in China where upcoming release dates for Hollywood continue to be a frustrating question mark.
Getting to the studios first, in a 23-market rollout, Universal’s M Night Shyamalan time-twister, Old, grossed $6.5M for a $23M global debut. Paramount’s Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins for its part rolled a $4M start from 37 markets which rep 29% of the overseas footprint. The global total on Snake Eyes is $17.4M through Sunday.
Another snake led the international box office overall, however, as Alibaba’s animated sequel White Snake 2: The Tribulation Of The Green Snake (aka Green Snake) grossed an estimated $29.8M in its opening Middle Kingdom frame. The film, centered on an ancient Chinese legend, included $2.6M from IMAX which was 9.1% of the national total and the highest IMAX indexing ever for a local animated film in the market. Green Snake was followed by Chinese Doctors at $17M for a $176M cume to date.
While there is market upheaval around the globe — from closures in South East Asia to France’s requirement of vaccination status and Australia having a gigantic swath of cinemas closed — Chinese cinemas have remained essentially unscathed since reopening last year. And yet, of late the market is rather more confounding than usual. Uni’s F9 and Par’s A Quiet Place Pat II were given May dates, while Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2 joined in June — since then, bupkes. July was expected to be a blackout period for imports, and we had heard that could stretch into August which now appears to be the case. There are no major Hollywood movies on the docket — and a date for Black Widow seems ever more elusive; a real shame for a market that loves Marvel. We understand that importation certificates have been scarce for studio movies and there is, as yet, no clear plan ahead for such films as Warner Bros’ Space Jam 2: A New Legacy or Disney’s Jungle Cruise — both of which having aspects that would lend themselves to appeal in China.
July has not been a banner month for Chinese movies — propaganda films released for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the communist party underwhelmed — and the market surely needs, and benefits from, its local hits. But, to maintain its growth (Covid or not), it also needs studio muscle. There are a handful of homegrown titles coming up which have recently been added to the calendar including action/crime pic Raging Fire starring Donnie Yen on July 30, and youth drama Up Coming on August 13.
Still, those titles were confirmed rather suddenly and this has got to be difficult for local exhibitors who have had release dates sprung upon them willy-nilly in recent months. One movie that was expected this summer, The Battle At Lake Changjin, with The Wandering Earth and Wolf Warrior movies’ Wu Jing, we hear, has been moved off the summer slate.
It’s not clear what’s next, but certainly even if the studios recoup only 25% of the box office from China, it seems a waste for both parties to have a shut-out on Hollywood.
Turning back to the overall weekend numbers: Old was the biggest new opener for Hollywood this session overseas with $6.5M from 23 markets and including a strong No. 1 start in Russia at $2.1M and well above comps. Snake Eyes was No. 3 in Russia at $685K, while No. 1 in the UAE and Singapore.
In holdovers, Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow held well during the mid-weeks, although it is suffering from a lack of South East Asian markets. The total 3rd weekend drop was 52% internationally for a $14.5M take in 48 markets. The international total is now $160.1M for $315M global.
Warner Bros’ Space Jam: A New Legacy, which, like Black Widow; should normally have a China date by now, added $12.6M from 66 markets. The overseas cume is $42.6M with $94M worldwide. The holdover drop was terrific at -37% and in like-for-likes the film is tracking 74% over Tom & Jerry which also released during the pandemic.
And then there’s stalwart Fast 9. Universal’s latest entry in the Fast Saga drove well past $600M worldwide this session to cume $621.3M. That’s the first Hollywood movie to the mark since 2019 Christmas release Jumanji: The Next Level got there in January 2020. The offshore weekend was $11.6M, hampered in part by the health pass requirement in France. The overseas total is $457.9M.
Breakdowns on the films above and more are being updated below.