China Box Office: 'The Eight Hundred' Becomes 2020's Biggest Film Globally, 'Mulan' Dissipates

The Eight Hundred
Courtesy of Blossoms Entertainment

'The Eight Hundred'

On Monday, the Chinese war epic overtook Sony's 'Bad Boys for Life' to become the world's top-earning movie this year.

Holdover local war epic The Eight Hundred dominated Mulan over the weekend in China, as the Disney tentpole continued its precipitous decline in its most important theatrical market.

The Eight Hundred, which has been in cinemas for a month, earned $17.7 million, lifting its total gross to $423.2 million, according to data from local box office tracker Artisan Gateway.

Mulan, meanwhile, earned just $6.5 million in its second weekend, a 72 percent slide from its opening. Despite being set in China, based on a Chinese legend and packed with Chinese stars, Mulan has brought in just $36.3 million in the Middle Kingdom. The film's worldwide theatrical results — $57 million — are even more dismal, considering that the picture cost an estimated $200 million to make, before marketing. Local ticketing app Maoyan forecasts Mulan to conclude its China run with just $41 million.

The Eight Hundred, produced for about $85 million, on Monday also overtook Sony's Bad Boys for Life ($424.6 million) to become the biggest worldwide film of 2020. As of 5 p.m. Beijing time on Monday, The Eight Hundred had reached $426.5 million. Maoyan projects the movie to finish its China run at around $445 million. The film's triumph represents a huge win for Beijing-based studio Huayi Brothers Media and director Guan Hu, who took a risk on releasing the film as China's first tentpole to hit cinemas amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The film has been credited with singlehandedly hailing the return of the world's second-biggest box office, where theaters are now operating at a healthy 75 percent of total seating capacity.

Christopher Nolan's Tenet earned a tad less than Mulan for the weekend, taking in $5.6 million for a three-frame China total of $61 million. In North America, where COVID-19 infection rates remain among the highest in the world, the sci-fi thriller has earned just $36.1 million. Like The Eight Hundred, Tenet was the first Hollywood film to brave the big screen amid the pandemic, but the results could scarcely be more different. Made for $200 million before marketing, the Warner Bros. tentpole has sold $250 million worth of tickets worldwide and looks all but certain to lose money.