'Man of Steel' Takes Flight in China With $5.86 Million Opening Day

British actor Henry Cavill stars as Superman.
British actor Henry Cavill stars as Superman.
 Warner Bros. Pictures

HONG KONG -- Man of Steel swept Chinese cinemas on its opening day in the country on Thursday, decimating the local competition by taking nearly 80 percent of the country's total box office for the day.

Director Zack Snyder and star Henry Cavill gave the film a major publicity boost by appearing at a gala premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival this week -- a screening event initiated by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros, according to a statement released by the festival's organizers two weeks ago. The Superman reboot took $5.86 million (36 million yuan) on Thursday, according to figures from entertainment business analysts Entgroup.

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The film, which averaged 31 heads per show for the day, blew the many still-running Chinese releases aside, with its gross amounting to nearly ten times that of local heist film Switch, which was ranked second in terms of box office revenue for the day. Switch opened in China on June 9, took $522,000 (3.2 million yuan) on its first day, with total box office revenue now standing at $46 million (282.2 million yuan).

Soon to compete with Man of Steel for attention, however, will be Jet Li's Badges of Fury, which opens in China on Friday.

Star Trek Into Darkness, the other Hollywood blockbuster still on release in the country, ranked fifth for the day on Thursday with $212,000 (1.3 million yuan) in revenue. Now into its 25th day of release, the Paramount-backed film has earned $56.2 million (345 million yuan) in China.

The next Hollywood import to make its bow in China will be After Earth, which debuts in the country on July 12, followed in the next week by Fast and Furious 6. Standing in Kent Clark's way of making a sustained haul at Chinese cinemas will be Keanu Reeves, whose Man of Tai Chi will be released on July 5.

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Man of Steel's arrival on the scene has seemingly concluded one of the more bizarre chart-topping runs in China in recent years. Switch's robust performance at the box office belied the critical mauling it received online, with critics and ordinary cinema-goers alike complaining about the film's incoherent plot and blatant product placements. Some have suggested it is the worst Chinese blockbuster ever released. 

Adding a strange twist to proceedings was a message the film's financier-director, Jay Sun Jianjun, left on his Weibo account -- the Chinese equivalent of Twitter -- in which he said he accepted the criticism, but also pointed out that he has, at least, delivered a lively topic for people to discuss over dinner and drinks.

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