China Box Office: 'Star Wars' Loses Weekend to Chinese Film 'Boonie Bears 3'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Still 14 Daisy Ridley and John Boyega - H 2015
Courtesy of Lucasfilms 2015/Walt Disney Studios

J.J. Abrams' global blockbuster slipped 70 percent in its second weekend in China after its screen count was drastically reduced.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens plummeted at the Chinese box office during its second weekend in the world's most populous nation.

The J.J. Abrams tentpole grossed $14.82 million from Saturday to Sunday (Jan. 16-17), a 72 percent decline from its sizable $53 million opening-weekend haul (Jan. 9-10), according to data from Beijing-based research firm EntGroup.

During its first two days, the movie had 167,060 showings in China, but last Saturday and Sunday it received just 66,568.

The decline came after Chinese exhibitors steadily reduced screenings to make room for Chinese film Boonie Bears 3, a relatively low-budget local animated feature. Based on a popular CCTV animated series and produced by Fantawild Holdings and LeVision Pictures, Boonie Bears 3 earned $15.08 million on Saturday and Sunday and had grossed a total of $20.07 as of Monday, including preview screenings. It received roughly 10 percent more showings than Force Awakens over the weekend

After nine days, the Disney and Luscasfilm blockbuster has grossed $97.46 million. Given the current rate of erosion — early estimates for Monday have the film earning only $2.43 million — Force Awakens now looks unlikely to gross more than $125 million in China.

For most Hollywood imports, a $100 million-plus gross in China — the world's second-largest theatrical market and climbing — is cause for celebration. Chinese box office analysts didn't think The Force Awakens would challenge Furious 7's massive $380 million cume in the country but most were expecting bigger things from the film, which has grossed over $850 million in North America, the most by any movie ever. 

Disney had made a massive marketing effort to bring China's hundreds of millions of moviegoers up to speed on America's most cherished film franchise, which is surprisingly unknown in China because of unique historical factors.

Force Awakens is likely to finish in China somewhere between Terminator: Genysis ($111 million) and Mission Impossible — Rouge Nation ($135 million), but those two titles managed $440 million and $682 million worldwide grosses, respectively, whereas Force Awakens has already earned over $1.81 billion globally.

Force Awakens will remain in the market next weekend, but Kung Fu Panda 3, which has been given permission to hold preview screenings on Saturday ahead of its Jan. 29 wide release, may well steal its remaining thunder.