While the February box office in North America cleared $1B for the first time, the Chinese box office set a new global one-month record at $1.6B (RMB 10.14B) in the same period. The huge boost in the Middle Kingdom is largely attributable to local Lunar New Year holiday titles. Among the highest-grossing movies to debut during that period are Detective Chinatown 2, Operation Red Sea and Monster Hunt 2.
Already the No. 3 film ever at the Chinese box office, comedy sequel Detective Chinatown 2 should be passing $500M today while actioner Operation Red Sea will move closer to the milestone — it’s at roughly $479M through Monday.
The previous global monthly box office record was set in July 2011, when North America spun $1.395B off such movies as Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon and Captain America: The First Avenger.
The February China takings were 64% bigger than last year’s comparable frame, although Chinese New Year doesn’t always fall at the same spot on the calendar. The previous highest-grossing month in China was August 2017 with RMB 7.38B ($1.17B), notes the Xinhua state news agency. That was fueled by Wolf Warrior 2 which has similar themes to Operation Red Sea and remains the biggest title ever at PROC turnstiles.
The full January/February frame in China was worth RMB 15.09 ($2.38B), per Xinhua, citing authority SAPPRFT. That’s a 36% increase on 2017. Local movies accounted for 83% of the take during the first two months of the year. According to updated data from SAPPRFT, China had 9,914 cinemas at the end of February and 53,824 screens.
March won’t match the February numbers, but it’s shaping up to be a healthy few weeks. The CNY movies are still playing out and there are some promising titles headed into China after the unofficial blackout on Hollywood fare.
Coming up this weekend is Black Panther, poised to do about $100M-$120M in ultimate business, according to industry sources. On March 16, the Tomb Raider reboot lands, potentially with a boost from local star Daniel Wu. Guillermo del Toro’s Best Picture Oscar winner The Shape Of Water bows that same day. Then on March 23, Pacific Rim: Uprising hits Mainland screens. The 2013 original was directed by del Toro and counted the Middle Kingdom as its biggest market by a mile with $112M. The sequel, directed by Steven S DeKnight and produced by del Toro, features Chinese actress Jing Tian (Kong: Skull Island) in a leading role.