Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered a precipitous decline at the Chinese box office in its second weekend, plummeting an unprecedented 78 percent and landing with a dull thud in a third-place tie with Disney Animation’s Zootopia, which has been on release for over a month.
After debuting to $57.2 million in a day-and-date opening weekend with North America, the Warner Bros. tentpole slipped steadily throughout the week as tepid-to-negative word of mouth spread online. By Friday BvS had lost over 70 percent of its screens, leading to a second-weekend gross of just $12.7 million, according to Beijing-based Ent Group (Warner Bros.’ early estimate for the weekend was even less — $12.4 million — which would place it in fourth place behind Zootopia). BvS‘s total after 10 days stands at $85.4 million. Monday is a national holiday in China, and the QingMing Festival weekend has traditionally been a solid box office period.
The movie’s second-weekend slide is the largest on record for a major Hollywood superhero title in the booming Chinese market. The Warner Bros. film could struggle to reach $100 million, and matching Marvel’s smallest titles — such as Guardians of the Galaxy ($96.5 million, 2014) Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($115.6 million, 2014) and Ant-Man ($105.3 million, 2015) — looks increasingly uncertain.
The outing sets a less than stellar precedent in China for Warner Bros.’ DC Cinematic Universe and forthcoming Justice League movies. By the time Zach Synder’s The Justice League Part One is released in fall 2017, China is expected to have surpassed North America as the world’s largest box office territory.
Hong Kong martial arts maestro Sammo Hung won the weekend with The Bodyguard, an action flick about a retired aging military official drawn back into service to protect a young girl from the criminal underworld. The movie, produced by Bill Kong’s Edko Films, opened Friday and grossed $25.7 million for the weekend, including midnight previews. Hung directs and stars, with Hong Kong heartthrob Andy Lau also in a lead role.
In second place, director Yang Qing’s Chongqing Hotpot pulled in $21.5. Starring Bhai Baihe (Monster Hunt) and Chen Kun (Mojin: The Lost Legend), the comedy follows a group of young entrepreneurs who are trying to revive a failed hotpot restaurant. During renovations to the shop, they accidentally break into a cash-filled bank vault in the wall belonging to a bank next door — hijinks ensue.
BvS finished the weekend in a neck-and-neck tie for third with Disney Animation’s Zootopia. Both earned an estimated $12.7 million, according to Ent Group’s data (By Disney and Warner Bros. own early estimates on Sunday, Zootopia came out on top, scoring $12.8 million over BvS‘s $12.4 million). After 31 days in Chinese cinemas, Zootopia has grossed $218.9 million, well beyond Disney’s most audacious projections and by far the most ever for an animated feature in China (Kung Fu Panda 3 is the second-biggest with roughly $150 million). China’s Film Bureau rewarded Zootopia on Friday with a last-minute extension to its local screening license, adding two weeks to its original 30-day run. Regulators typically grant films 30 days on Chinese screens. Local Chinese hits can usually score an extension, but prolonged runs for Hollywood studio fare are rare.
In fourth place, Le Vision Pictures’ awkwardly titled coming-of-age drama Who Sleeps My Bro earned $10.53 million. The movie is based on a cherished local pop song of the same name from 2001. The film follows the struggles and romances of four young university students in Shanghai. Le Vision has said it plans to adapt other features from Chinese pop anthems.
Further down the list, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar-winning turn in Alejandro Iñárritu’s dark frontier epic The Revenant continued to draw attendance. The New Regency Pictures release added $1.39 million for a $56.4 million total after 17 days.