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Only two Hollywood titles — Avengers: Infinity War ($201 million) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($134 million) — have scored bigger openings in the massive China market this year.
The superhero sequel, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, is pacing well ahead of the first Ant-Man film, which opened in China to $43 million in 2015. The big China bow also lifted the sequel past its predecessor at the worldwide box office: Ant-Man 2‘s global haul now sits at $544 million compared with the first film’s $519 million final total.
The outsized start also is the fourth-biggest debut ever for a Marvel film in the Middle Kingdom, trailing only Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War and Captain America: Civil War.
Ant-Man 2‘s China tally included $7.2 million from Imax, which is the giant screen operator’s biggest August opening weekend to date.
The big numbers were buttressed by positive word of mouth: the film scored 8.9/10 on Chinese ticketing app Maoyan and 7.5/10 from local reviews aggregator Douban.
Ant-Man 2 won’t have too long to rack up the RMB, however. Paramount’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout, with strong marketing support from local Internet giant Alibaba, is set to unfurl Friday.
Debuting in second place over the weekend, Hong Kong action comedy Big Brother, starring Donnie Yen (Rogue One, Ip Man) as a former special forces soldier turned high school teacher, earned $13 million.
Warner Bros.’ giant shark hit The Meg, meanwhile, added $7 million in its third frame, taking its total to $144.2 million. The film is a co-production with China’s Gravity Pictures and co-stars Chinese actress Li Bingbing opposite Jason Statham.
Other upcoming U.S. releases in China include STX Entertainment’s I Feel Pretty, which will test Chinese appetite for contemporary U.S. comedy when it bows Wednesday, and Studio 8’s prehistoric adventure pic Alpha, opening Sept. 7 and looking to make up ground after a soft start stateside.
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