Barbie’s incredible box office debut in the United States was by no means matched in China.
The Greta Gerwig-helmed Warner Bros. blockbuster had a disappointing $8 million Chinese opening and finished the weekend in fifth place, after a number of regional Chinese hits. The movie opened to a record-breaking $155 million in North America.
Barbie’s slow start is a continuation of a trend where Hollywood pictures are now making significantly less in China than they once did. Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, which debuted in third place behind two Chinese holdovers the weekend before, had a disastrous opening weekend in China.
Despite the weak sales, Barbie has a positive reputation. Its social ratings on Maoyan, Taopiaopiao, and Douban are 9.4, 9.3, and 8.6, respectively. Barbie’s sales ranking climbed into third place for the day on Monday, suggesting that the positive chatter may have given Barbie a slight lift.
But over the weekend, Barbie had to face with some tough neighbourhood competitors. The first installment of the long-awaited Fengshen Trilogy, the historical fantasy epic Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms, was released on Thursday and dominated the box office from Friday to Sunday with a $42.6 million take. One of the more visually ambitious Chinese films in recent memory, Creation of Gods, directed by Wuershan (Painted Skin) and executive produced by Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), has drawn similarities to The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Including Thursday, it has made $53.7 million, which is a modest start given the long years of industry anticipation for the brand.
Chang An, produced by Light Chaser Animation, saw a $40.6 million increase during its third weekend of release, bringing its total to $168 million, making it one of China’s all-time highest grossing original animated films. Wonder Family, a member of the successful comedy troupe Mahua FunAge (Moon Man, Goodbye Mr. Loser), took third place. It made $31.3 million in its first three days of release. A remarkable $261 million running total was reached by Wang Baoqiang’s most recent blockbuster, Never Say Never, which fell to fourth place in its third weekend and added $20.6 million.
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