'Iron Man 3' Smashes China's Opening-Day Box Office Record

Clarence Tsui
'Iron Man 3' Smashes China's Opening-Day Box Office Record

HONG KONG – Iron Man 3 is continuing to do stellar business abroad ahead of its U.S. release.

With the film’s joint producers, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment, yet to announce official numbers, a report in the much-visited Chinese film portal mtime.com said the film took 130 million yuan on its opening day on May 1. The figure easily eclipses the previous opening-day box office record held by Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which took 110 million yuan on its first day of release on July 21, 2011.

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Iron Man 3 also beat Dark of the Moon’s record for midnight screenings in China as well: more than 300,000 viewers attended over 2,500 shows across the country, generating an amount of 12.5 million yuan – a number slightly higher than the 12 million yuan the third installment of the Transformers franchise took two years ago.

As if to illustrate the growing importance of China as a film market, Iron Man 3’s single-day taking in the country is enough to see China ranked the fourth largest source of box office revenue for the film, behind Britain, South Korea and Mexico. It is worth noting, though, that the film has already run for a week in all three countries. The film will be released in the U.S. on Friday.

With such an impressive opening – a figure boosted by the fact that the film opened on a public holiday in the country – Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) latest (mis)adventure is now expected to help Hollywood recover from what has been a disappointing 2013 in China. According to official figures released by the country’s film regulators, domestic films have taken 70 percent of the country’s total box office in the first three months of the year, with local audiences flocking to homegrown hits ranging from special effects blockbusters like Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons to mid-budget romantic comedies like Finding Mr Right.

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Speculation has been rife that Iron Man 3 was denied a late April release – a logical move given how the film opened in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea at that time – because the authorities wanted to give So Young, a much-hyped nostalgia-tinged drama about the lives of four university students in the 1990s, a clear run during the three-day holiday break, which ran from April 29 to May 1.

Indeed, So Young has proved to be a massive hit in the country, as its opening-day earnings of 45 million yuan smashed the record for domestic productions previously held by Lost in Thailand, with the film’s backer, Enlight Media CEO Wang Changtian, telling the Chinese media that the film has taken more than 300 million yuan by its sixth day of release.

It's now nearly inevitable that So Young will go on to usurp Finding Mr Right’s standing as the highest-grossing romantic drama ever released in China. (Xue Xiao-lu’s Seattle-set film attained that title last month, when it leapfrogged Feng Xiaogang’s 2010 film If You Are The One 2.) But Iron Man 3’s steely performance has certainly cast doubts about whether Vicki Zhao Wei’s semi-autobiographical tale could aim for more dizzying heights.