Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone cast its spell over the box office in China this weekend, as Hollywood rereleases continue to entice people back to recently reopened cinemas.
The 3D, 4K rerelease of the first film in Warner Bros’ multi-billion dollar franchise was able to magic up a stellar $13.4 million this weekend, according to local box office consultancy Artisan Gateway. The strong showing from The Sorcerer’s Stone pushed the total box office to $21.9 million, the best single weekend performance since China’s cinemas reopened.
Theaters in China are now into their fourth week of reopening after a COVID-19 enforced lockdown put in place back in January. Despite the restart, the country’s exhibitors are still operating with limits on the number of screens and strict social distancing measures on top of having a public still wary about returning to the movies. The stronger week-to-week performance is in stark contrast to the year-on-year decline of 92.8 percent.
Puffed up partly by higher-priced IMAX admissions, on Saturday The Sorcerer’s Stone scored the biggest single-day take since the restart and its total China gross, including all previous releases, now stands at $21.4 million according to Artisan Gateway. The China rerelease of the 2001 film, based on the first book of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally successful book series, is edging the movie closer to a $1 billion worldwide cume.
In second place was Sony’s delayed release of Bad Boys For Life which made a modest $3.1 million. The post-COVID-19 theatrical landscape has notably lacked new Hollywood releases but the third film in the Bad Boys franchise didn’t bring the crowds out, with the film hampered by its lukewarm critical reception including a 5.7/10 rating on the popular media review platform Douban.
Coming in third was local war epic The Eight Hundred which made an impressive $2 million in previews. Directed by Guan Hu and produced by Huayi Bros., The Eight Hundred is an $80 million tentpole based on a pivotal battle in 1937 during the Sino-Japanese war: the historic siege and defense of the Si Hang Warehouse in Shanghai where 400 fighters, an unlikely mix of soldiers, deserters and civilians became known as the “Eight Hundred Heroes,” after holding out against waves of Japanese forces for four days and four nights.
The hotly anticipated war film was originally supposed to be released last summer but had its world premiere dramatically pulled from the Shanghai Film Festival and then its nationwide release canceled at the 11th hour by China’s censors, although no official reason has ever been given.
With stellar reviews, an 8.1 rating on Douban and buoyed by nationalistic fervor, The Eight Hundred should breakout big next weekend when it goes on general release.
The rerelease of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar continued to rack up solid numbers, making another $1.3 million this weekend. Including its original run, the 2014 sci-fi epic, which stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, has now made $123.9 million in China.
Interstellar‘s strong performance and Nolan’s name recognition in China bodes well for the Middle Kingdom release of his high concept sci-fi movie Tenet, which has cleared the country’s censors and is set to be released on Sept. 4. To drum up a little more Nolan-mania in China, Warner Bros. is also rereleasing Inception in the country on Aug. 28.
Rounding out the top five this weekend was the rerelease of Sam Quah’s 2019 crime drama Sheep Without a Shepherd which made $1.1 million and now has a cume of $187.7 million.