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James Bond installment No Time to Die left China’s box office stirred but not especially shaken with a $28.2 million debut over the weekend.
The opening trails Spectre‘s $44.5 million China start in 2015, but it’s hardly a disappointment considering the pandemic-era circumstances. Recent COVID-19 flareups in over a dozen provinces across China have prompted the shutdown of more than 1,400 cinemas, including a smattering of theaters in Beijing. Altogether, analysts estimate that over 13 percent of Chinese screens were non-operational for the weekend. China’s draconian “COVID zero” approach to the pandemic means the shutdowns are likely to continue for some time.
No Time to Die has been met with reasonably positive word of mouth, scoring 8.8 on ticketing app Maoyan and 7 on Douban. Maoyan projects the film to finish with a China total of $68 million.
The Bond franchise has never been Hollywood’s most powerful player in the China market. Spectre topped out at $83.5 million, while Skyfall earned $59 million back in 2012.
But Bond did earn the distinction of finally unseating local Korean War epic The Battle of Lake Changjin, which has been riding high in China for the past month. The state-supported patriotic tentpole added further $19.2 million, for an astounding total of $859 million, according to Artisan Gateway — by far the biggest worldwide haul of any movie this year.
Legendary Entertainment’s Dune slipped considerably in its second frame as rampant piracy and the movie’s high-brow aesthetics weighed on local earnings. The Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi epic added just $5 million in its second frame, down 76 percent from its $21 million opening last weekend. Dune‘s total has climbed to $32.9 million, with Maoyan projecting a $38 million finish.
Making a discreet but surprisingly successful opening in fourth place was a re-release of Japan’s 2008 Oscar winner Departures, from filmmaker Yojiro Takita. The heartwarming drama opened with $3.6 million, considerably more than the $1.5 million it earned in North America over a decade ago when it become Japan’s first movie to win the best international film Oscar.
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