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Hong Kong action sequel Shock Wave 2 rocked China’s box office over the weekend, opening to a healthy $64.5 million. Youth fantasy film Dream of Eternity also did decent business, debuting to $38.9 million.
Hollywood tentpoles, however, fared far less well. Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 was effectively snuffed out, adding just $1.5 million in its second weekend, a 92 percent decline from its disappointing $18.8 million opening, according to data from Artisan Gateway. The superhero tentpole, which cost $200 million to make, has totaled just $23.9 million and is expected to earn only a little more. The first Wonder Woman film brought in $90.5 million in China.
Disney / Pixar’s Soul, which opened over Disney+ in markets where the service is available, debuted to just $5.5. Amid a crowded frame, the animated title received limited screens for its China bow, but that could change slightly thanks to the rave word of mouth the film is generating.
Whereas Wonder Woman 1984 has left Chinese filmgoers cold — scoring a lowly 7.8 from ticketing app Maoyan and 6.5 from Douban — Soul, directed by Pete Docter, is already benefiting from an overtly positive reception. The music-themed film started in fifth place on Friday and finished in third by Sunday, as effusive buzz pushed its daily earnings upwards. Soul has a rating of 9.6 from Maoyan, a 9.5 on Alibaba’s Tao Piao Piao and a 9.2 on Douban — some of the best social scores ever for a Pixar title.
Shock Wave 2‘s opening haul has already surpassed the first Shock Wave film’s total earnings of $58 million in 2017. Written and directed by Herman Yau, the sequel brings back Hong Kong veteran Andy Lau as a top bomb disposal expert. This time the character is falsely accused of a terrorist attack and must prove his innocence while on the run. The film has clicked with Chinese action fans, scoring 9.2 on Maoyan and 8 from Douban. It earned $4.4M of its total from 656 Imax screens. The film is co-distributed by Alibaba Pictures.
The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is written and directed by local teen favorite Guo Jinming, whose Tiny Times franchise earned over $300 million in China from 2013 to 2015. Like much of Guo’s work, the new film was met with a withering appraisal from critics — some Chinese Marvel fans have even accused it of copying visual elements from Doctor Strange (2016) — while still performing fairly well at the box office.
Dream of Eternity is an adaptation of Japanese author by Baku Yumemakura’s blockbuster fantasy novel Onmyoji, which has spawned countless comic book, TV, movie and video game adaptations across Asia since its publication in 1986. Looking to tap that pan-regional appeal, Netflix acquired the worldwide streaming rights to the title (outside China) and will release it online on Feb. 5.
Dante Lam’s The Rescue, the previous weekend’s winner, fell steeply, adding just $9.9 million for a $64.6 million two-weekend total. The steep decline assures that the film will lose money and fall vastly short of Lam’s previous action blockbuster Operation Red Sea, which earned $575 million. It’s unlikely that The Rescue will even earn back its $90 million production budget.
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