Hollywood's China Box-Office Shockers: Vin Diesel's 'xXx' Among Top-Grossing Films

8:00 AM 4/18/2017

by Patrick Brzeski

Despite minimal buzz in the U.S., 'Warcraft' and 'Return of Xander Cage' were among the movies that found surprising success overseas.

'Warcraft' and 'xXx: Return of Xander Cage'
'Warcraft' and 'xXx: Return of Xander Cage'
Courtesy of Legendary Pictures; Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The distinct tastes of China's growing and diversifying film market have yielded no shortage of box-office surprises. While the Star Wars saga remains a modestly performing franchise in the Middle Kingdom (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story earned just $65.9 million there, compared with $531 million in North America), other titles that attracted minimal notice in U.S. cinemas have put up eye-popping numbers in China.

  • Warcraft

    2015

    Courtesy of Universal Pictures

    North America: $47 million
    China: $221 million

    Legendary Entertainment's Duncan Jones-directed video game adaptation got a big marketing lift from the studio's Chinese parent company, Dalian Wanda Group. Nostalgia and the enormous local popularity of the underlying property helped too.

  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    2017

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures

    North America: $27 million
    China: $160 million

    Perhaps not so "final" after all, the action-horror franchise's fifth installment weathered seven minutes of cuts by China's censors but still opened to a great $94 million, Hollywood's biggest bow in China this year. Insiders attribute much of the film's success to pent-up demand for the horror genre in China.

  • xXx: Return of Xander Cage

    2017

    George Kraychyk/Paramount Pictures

    North America: $45 million
    China: $164 million

    With the casting coup of Donnie Yen and local heartthrob Kris Wu in key roles, the third Xander Cage movie did localization right. And Vin Diesel built on the record performance of Furious 7 to cement his position as one of Hollywood's most bankable stars in China.

  • Now You See Me 2

    2016

    Courtesy of Summit Entertaiment

    North America: $65 million
    China: $97 million

    With help from local marketing specialist and co-financier Leomus Pictures, Summit Entertainment set some of the heist sequel in the Chinese casino enclave of Macau and recruited Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou to the cast.

  • A Dog's Purpose

    2017

    Joe Lederer/Universal

    North America: $63 million
    China: $88 million

    Amblin Entertainment's family drama may have been hurt in North America by a leaked video suggesting a dog was mistreated, but the film outstripped expectations in China, riding word-of-mouth and a resurgence in local pet ownership.

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