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Nearly four months after its U.S. release, Warner Bros’ summer box office phenom Crazy Rich Asians finally debuted in the world’s largest Asian nation over the weekend. But the results from China, following much hype and speculation, were thoroughly underwhelming.
Crazy Rich Asians opened on 5,000 screens but earned just $1.2 million, making a dismal eighth-place start, according to Artisan Gateway.
Last week’s winner, the edgy local dramedy A Cool Fish, easily held onto first place, taking $24.2 million for a three-weekend total of $90.1 million.
Sony’s Venom, meanwhile, also held strong, adding $12.3 million for a monster 24-day total of $262.2 million. The Spider-Man spinoff is now the second-biggest Hollywood release in China this year, having nudged past Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($261.2 million). Only Disney Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War earned more ($359.5 million).
The release of Crazy Rich Asians was closely watched by analysts, who had spent months puzzling over how the film’s feel-good Cinderella story and celebrated all-Asian cast would connect at the world’s second-biggest box office (those advising caution often pointed out that identity tends to be perceived along national lines in China, and that nearly all of the country’s own films already feature “all-Asian,” or “all-Chinese,” casts).
It’s now abundantly clear that the curiosity about Crazy Rich Asians’ release was not shared by the vast majority of Chinese moviegoers. The film rapidly lost screens throughout the weekend as exhibitors reacted to its surprisingly weak start (less than $500,000 earned Friday) and the dearth of buzz online. The four-month delay after the U.S. release couldn’t have helped the film’s fortunes, but it certainly wasn’t the only marketing problem.
Other Hollywood holdovers did modestly better. Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet brought in $10.2 million in its second weekend, taking its total to $34.2 million. Universal’s Rowan Atkinson sequel Johnny English Strikes Again notched $5.1 million for a two-weekend total of $21.3 million.
Friday will bring the release of Warner Bros.’ Aquaman, directed by James Wan, which is expected to do big business. The Chinese market is getting a look at the superhero tentpole a full two weeks before its North American release Dec. 21.
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