China Box Office: 'Spectre' Has the Competition Shaken and Stirred

Spectre's Opening Scene - H 2015
Courtesy of Jonathan Olley/MGM/Columbia Pictures

With a stellar $48 million opening, the 24th James Bond film bagged a number of records for a 2D Hollywood movie in the world's second-biggest movie market.

It took a while, but James Bond finally won over Chinese audiences as Spectre, the 24th film in the franchise, grabbed itself a $48 million opening and a host of records in the world's second-biggest movie market. 

The records tumbled as Spectre took the titles for biggest Friday opening ($15 million), biggest opening weekend and biggest three-day take ($48 million) for a 2D Hollywood movie, according to estimates from Sony. After only three days, Spectre was just $11 million shy of Skyfall's entire box office in China, with the 23rd Bond movie topping out at $59 million back in 2012. 

Spectre's stellar performance was no doubt helped by Daniel Craig visiting China to promote the movie prior to release, including a Nov. 11 appearance on national television (with an estimated audience of 500 million) launching the Singles Day celebration with Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Singles Day is China's biggest online shopping day and has become something of a national phenomenon. 

Another key advantage for Spectre was the wealth of positive and largely free spin-off press the film had in China and other places, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, frequented by mainland Chinese. In a country fond of luxury goods, Bond's predilection for the finer things in life played well with wealthy and aspirant Chinese moviegoers. Omega, Tom Ford, Bollinger, Aston Martin and Heineken have all exploited their links to the world's most famous spy in the lead-up to Spectre's release in China, maintaining the buzz for the film. 

According to Chinese box-office data company Entgroup, Spectre had 9.8 million admissions after three days. With its current momentum, Spectre should break Skyfall's box-office figure by Wednesday, and the film now boasts a global haul of $543.8 million.

In second place this week was Chinese director Yu-sheng Tian's romantic comedy sequel The Ex-Files 2: The Backup Strikes Again, which has now taken $34.66 million after 10 days, according to Entgroup.  

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials had another steady if unspectacular week in China, grabbing third place and another $8.23 million to give it a 12-day cume of $29.83 million. The young-adult sequel, directed by Wes Ball, had 1.5 million admissions for the week. 

In fourth was another new entrant, local film Les Aventures d'Anthony, which took $6.36 million in its first three days of release. A sentimental romantic drama, Anthony stars a host of popular young Chinese stars, including Zhou Xun, model Liu Chang, actor Jin Shijia, actress Bai Baihe and singer Pax Congo.  

Fifth was Universal's mountain disaster movie Everest, which grabbed an anemic $3.87 million this week for a 13-day cume of $15.57 million. In Everest's defense, marketing for the film has been limited and a little last-minute, as it was a lucky late addition to the Chinese release schedule. 

In sixth was The Last Woman Standing — another rom-com set in contemporary urban China, this one starring heartthrobs Shu Qi and Eddie Peng — which added another $3.25 million for a 10-day cume of $9.51 million, according to Entgroup figures.

Local crime thriller The Witness is showing healthy staying power, sticking around the top 10 after 17 days. Falling to seventh, The Witness now has a cume of $33.71 million after adding a modest $2.46 million this week.

Yet another local rom-com, My Original Dream, took eighth place with $1.78 million after five days. Sony's Hotel Transylvania 2 slipped to ninth place this week, earning another $1.74 million for a 20-day total of $17.90 million.

Two major Hollywood titles, Ant-Man and The Peanuts Movie, dropped out of the top 10 this week, squeezed out by another local youthful rom-comThis Is Me, which took $1.52 million in its first three days. 

On the horizon, Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is expected to do well in China when it is released on Friday.