September 24, 2023



“Oppenheimer” closes in on $50M in China, but “Dust to Dust” tops the box office for a second weekend

“Oppenheimer” closes in on $50M in China, but “Dust to Dust” tops the box office for a second weekend

According to local predictions, Christopher Nolan’s film is expected to reach approximately $57 million, ranking it as the fourth highest-grossing U.S. film in China for the year.

Over the weekend, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” surged to $47.2 million in China, exceeding expectations in the second-largest global box office market. However, it yielded the top spot to the Chinese crime thriller “Dust to Dust,” which had a strong two-day opening, raking in $22.2 million starting on Saturday, surpassing “Oppenheimer’s” $9.6 million weekend total. These figures are based on data from the box office tracking company Artisan Gateway.

According to the Chinese ticketing app Maoyan’s forecast, “Oppenheimer” is projected to conclude its run in China with around $57 million in earnings. This would position it as the fourth highest-grossing U.S. film release in China for 2023, trailing behind “Fast X” ($139.5 million), “Meg 2: The Trench” ($116.5 million, though it’s a China co-production), and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” ($86.9 million).

Despite its lengthy runtime and weighty historical subject matter, which many analysts thought might deter Chinese audiences, “Oppenheimer” has received strong local acclaim. On the influential fan platform Douban, it has garnered nearly half a million reviews with an average rating of 8.8, one of the highest scores for any recent Hollywood film. Maoyan and Alibaba’s Tao Piao Piao ticket services, it maintain impressive averages of 9.4 and 9.6, respectively.

The weekend’s top film, “Dust to Dust,” marks the directorial debut of Jonathan Li, who gained experience as an assistant director on several Hong Kong crime classics, including “Infernal Affairs 3,” “Dog Bite Dog,” and the “Overheard” series. This crime thriller features popular comedian Da Peng and actor Zhang Songwen, known for his lead role in the recent hit TV drama “The Knockout.” The film is based on a true 1995 armed robbery in Guangdong, where five thieves ambushed a cash transport vehicle, resulting in three courier deaths and a stolen fortune. While three culprits were quickly apprehended, the two masterminds remained elusive for two decades, reemerging unexpectedly. “Dust to Dust” follows a retired police detective haunted by the case, who returns to unravel the mystery. It premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June.

Additionally, the crime thriller sensation “No More Bets” secured the third spot for the weekend, contributing $7.7 million to its impressive total of $520 million since its release on August 8. Produced by Ning Hao, the film has maintained its dominance in Chinese cinemas.

The fantasy epic “Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms” secured the fourth spot with $3.4 million, pushing its overall earnings to $357.1 million. North American viewers will get the chance to experience this film, often dubbed “China’s response to Lord of the Rings” and widely praised for its production quality, when it arrives on September 22, thanks to a recent distribution agreement with Well Go USA.

This Friday, Chinese audiences can anticipate the release of Millennium Films’ action movie “Expend4bles” and 20th Century’s “A Haunting in Venice,” the latest installment in the Hercule Poirot mystery series starring Kenneth Branagh. Previous entries from these two franchises have yielded mixed results. “Murder on the Orient Express” earned $35 million in 2017, while “Death on the Nile,” released during pandemic lockdowns, brought in $10.8 million.

The first three films in the “Expendables” series, released in 2010, 2012, and 2014, grossed $31.7 million, $53 million, and $72.8 million, respectively. Given the evolving tastes of the Chinese audience since the last installment, “Expend4bles” will serve as a valuable gauge of the market’s appetite for classic Hollywood action.

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Ralph Calaway

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