China Box Office: 'Batman v Superman' Opens Well Behind Marvel's 'Avengers' Franchise

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'

The superhero movie's $57.2 million three-day gross was still enough to give Warner Bros. its best-ever opening weekend in China.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice bulldozed its way to the top of the Chinese box office over the weekend, pulling in $57 million and giving Warner Bros. its best three-day debut ever in the Middle Kingdom. But the impressive outing wasn't enough to match the powerful precedent set by Marvel's Avengers franchise in China. 

Debuting Friday in a day-and-date window with the U.S., the Zach Snyder-directed superhero smackdown scored $18.4 million, plus $1.3 million in previews, according to Beijing-based box office monitor Ent Group. 

The performance is the sixth-largest opening day ever for a Hollywood studio film in China, but it trails well behind Avengers: Age of Ultron, which pulled in nearly twice as much when it opened to $36 million on a Tuesday in May, 2015. BvS also debuted a notch below the $19.7 million Iron Man 3 earned on its first day in 2012, back when the overall Chinese box office was less than half its current size. Even Ant-Man, far from Marvel's mightiest superhero picture, grossed $45 million last October, not terribly far behind Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman combined. 

On Saturday, BvS got a modest bump of 21 percent, taking in $22.3 million. Sunday's total slipped to $14.8 million, and Monday's total landed at an estimated $4.58 million for a cumulative total of $61.5 million, according to the numbers from China.

Given the eye-popping grosses achieved by Chinese-language blockbusters as of late — Stephen Chow's The Mermaid grossed just shy of $190 million in five days in February, and its total is now nearly $520 million — many observers have been hard on the BvS bow, wracking it up as something of a disappointment.

Word of mouth has been mostly lukewarm on the country's top user-generated review sites, although nowhere near as harsh as the U.S. critical consensus. BvS's review average on Douban has slid to 6.7, after starting notably higher on Friday.

The showing so far suggests that the Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck picture will struggle to reach China's all-time top 20 list. To do so, it will have to overtake DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 3 at $153 million.

It's even more unlikely that the Warner Bros. tentpole will ever catch up with Disney Animation's runaway hit Zootopia, which raced past the $200 million mark in China on Monday. After three weeks in local cinemas, Zootopia continues to build on its record as the biggest animation ever at the Chinese box office (Kung Fu Panda 3 is a distant second).

The Revenant also extended its surprise success in China, stalking its way to $51.82 million as of Monday, 11 days after its release. The movie's dark tone was seen as something of a gamble for the youth-driven China market, but Leonardo DiCaprio's star power and Oscar win helped the film break new ground.

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