January 31, 2023

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China Box Office: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ wins the weekend

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“Avatar: The Way of Water” continues its uneven box office run in mainland China for a fourth weekend at the top of the chart.

The film grossed $16.5 million (RMB114 million) between Friday and Sunday, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. It represented 55% of the weekend’s nationwide cinema gross.
By Sunday evening, the film had grossed more than $189 million (RMB1.31 billion), making it the top-grossing Hollywood film released in China since 2022.

It’s a total that seemed unlikely just a few weeks ago, and ticketing agency Mawan revised its forecast to a possible final total of RMB1.5 billion, or about $225 million, for the film.

The approval for the release of “Avatar 2” in China came early enough for distributors to launch a massive marketing campaign, book cinemas and synchronize it with its outings in North America and other territories.

The Chinese government’s subsequent decision to lift most of its anti-Covid controls was initially read as further encouragement for the film. But with lagging health systems, the disease was allowed to spread through the population. This kept some people away from cinema, while others enjoyed their new-found freedom.

The film delivered $51.8 million in its first weekend gross, which is extremely impressive given the recent turmoil in the Chinese cinema industry and still fell short of many expectations.

Earnings halved the weekend of the second weekend (Dec. 23-25, 2022), but then rebounded strongly the weekend of Dec. 30, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023. Third weekend revenue in China was $36.3 million.

The film’s dominance will continue into the coming weekend as there are a few notable new titles to challenge it for the screens. Next weekend, however, marks the start of Chinese New Year and a potential refresh of titles on offer.

In the most recent weekend, Mawan Weiying’s “Better Man” scored $5.8 million for a December 31 cume of $29.0 million. In third place, Wanda Pictures’ “Someday or Someday” grossed $4.7 million from its December 24 total of $46.5 million.

Japanese animation, “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” scored RMB5.9 million (about $850,000) during its debut.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which was released in China on Dec. 23, earned another RMB5.6 million ($810,000). It now stands at $2.9 million (RMB20.1 million) cumulatively.

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