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Box Office Report: Guillermo del Toro's 'Pacific Rim' Debuts Huge in China

Pacific Rim Robot in Rain - H 2013
Warner Bros. Pictures
"Pacific Rim"

The opening-day gross of $9 million marks the biggest for any Warner Bros. movie, although even a strong China showing may not stop the tentpole from losing money, complicated by the fact that the China Film Group is withholding payments to Hollywood.

Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.' Pacific Rim is off to an impressive start in China, where it opened to an estimated $9 million Wednesday.

The movie, from Guillermo del Toro, marked the biggest start for any WB film, eclipsing the opening day of the final Harry Potter film by 23 percent. It also toppled Universal's Fast & Furious 6 from the top spot at the Chinese box office and boasted the second-highest opening day of the year for a Hollywood title after Iron Man 3.

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Nevertheless, even a stellar run in China isn't likely to save the film from losing money. It also has to open in Japan, Brazil and Spain.

Pacific Rim has grossed roughly $240 million to date worldwide, a soft number considering its $200 production budget and likely $175 million global marketing spend. Legendary Pictures took the lead on the project, including putting up much of the money, and is still considering a sequel, although sources say WB won't be involved with a follow-up. (Legendary leaves the studio at the end of the year for its new co-financing and co-producing deal with Universal.)

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Pacific Rim also debuts amid the revelation that the government-affiliated China Film Group has stopped making box office payments to Hollywood studios because of a dispute over who should pay a new 2 percent value-added tax. Studios haven't been paid since late last year and are owed tens of millions of dollars. As it is, they get back only 25 percent of Chinese box office receipts, if that.