After pulling in $33.5M across five days of previews at the Chinese box office, local war epic The Eight Hundred overwhelmingly stormed theaters today, its first official day of release. Adding roughly $20M across the country on Friday — the biggest single-day box office since cinemas resumed operations — the Middle Kingdom cume is now north of $53M. It had already become the highest-grossing release of the year locally and, worldwide, is the biggest title since the reopening process began.
The movie is the first Chinese film fully shot with IMAX cameras and is playing on more than 600 IMAX screens in the market. It is expected to see an overall three-day frame upwards of $60M which would put it in the $100M ballpark through Sunday. It currently leads presales for most of next week, according to Maoyan (new entries next weekend include local pic Love You Forever and the 10th anniversary re-release of Inception). Maoyan (where it has a 9.2 score) is currently forecasting a $240M final cume on The Eight Hundred, though we’ve also heard lower at around $217M.
From director Guan Hu, the 1937-set story of Chinese soldiers defending a warehouse against the invading Japanese army during the Battle of Shanghai set new single-day records earlier this week and today helped propel the overall Chinese box office to about $22M (RMB 152.7M), the highest so far in the post-COVID era.
A controversial title, it was originally scheduled to debut at the Shanghai Film Festival in 2019, but was abruptly yanked and never made its summer release date last year. No official reasons were given, but it’s believed that the movie was sending a political message that was not acceptable to key members of the Chinese military regarding revolutionary history. Some edits were subsequently made.
Backers include Huayi Brothers, Alibaba Pictures and Tencent Pictures. CMC Pictures in North America, Australia and New Zealand beginning August 28.