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Box Office: ‘Battle At Lake Changjin’ Plunges 60% On Friday To Top $555M In China

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

The Battle At Lake Changjin earned $25.6 million on its second Friday, dropping 58% from yesterday ($60 million) and 60% from its $63.7 million “first Friday/day two” gross. That’s a sharp drop for a film that had been on a roll since last Thursday, earning $30 million on opening day followed by a $205 million Fri-Sun frame and $292 million in its next Mon-Thurs frame. The week-long National Day holiday (October 1 through October 7) is over, meaning that perhaps the grosses for China’s latest mega-movie are coming down to Earth. Still, the 176-minute, Wu Jing/Jackson Yee-starring “China defeats the Americans and prolongs the Korean War” epic has earned $555.3 million in nine days, or 2.5 times its reported $200 million budget.

If it doesn’t massively “recover” today and/or tomorrow, we’re could still be looking at an $82 million second-weekend gross, or about where we all hope No Time to Die ends up in its domestic debut weekend following $6.3 million in preview grosses. That would still push the film to around $612 million in China, or just below the $629 million Chinese total (out of $2.8 billion worldwide) of Avengers: Endgame. At a normal rate of descent, an $82 million second-weekend gross suggests a $775 million Chinese total for The Battle at Lake Changjin (review), which is only disappointing if you were hoping it would easily zoom past $800 million and challenge Wolf Warrior II ($854 million in summer 2017) for the Chinese all-timer crown.

$775 million would still be well above F9: The Fast Saga ($716 million global, including $173 million domestic and $203 million in China) to place as the second-biggest worldwide grosser of 2021 behind China’s Hi Mom ($837 million). The next-biggest would be China’s Detective Chinatown 3, which opened on the same New Years frame as Hi Mom with a record-smashing $398.5 million Fri-Sun debut. However, poor word of mouth due to convoluted world building, misguided Hollywood-style franchise set-up and retroactive continuity reveals led to a post-debut plunge for a “mere” $690 million total. Months later, F9 made similar choices and crashed hard in China (from a $135 million debut) for similar reasons. It wasn’t about John Cena referring to Taiwan as a country.

Even The Wandering Earth (co-starring Wu Jing, who also stars in Wolf Warrior II and The Battle At Lake Changjin) didn’t quite hold the like in early 2019. The sci-fi epic opened with $179 million over the Fri-Sun portion of a $298 million holiday debut. Talk of the first single-territory $1 billion-plus earner subsided as it ended with “just” $699 million. These are huge figures for massively profitable flicks. Detective Chinatown 3 grossed 5.9x its $117 million budget. We’re getting Wandering Earth 2 and I’d expect Detective Chinatown 4. However, we may be seeing a scenario where Hollywood-style frontloading (the “quick kill blockbuster,” as I’ve been calling it since Batman Returns) may be occurring even for Chinese biggies in China on a semi-regular basis.

Come what may, we’re still looking at a final Chinese cume that will likely be just over/under the $760 million domestic total of Avatar. In terms of single-territory records, it’ll end up above/below Avatar ($760 million domestic in 2009/2010) and below Hi Mom ($837 million in China), Wolf Warrior II ($854 million in China), Avengers: Endgame ($867 million domestic) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937 million domestic). These are ridiculous numbers by any reasonable standard, it just means we may have to wait for that first “$1 billion in a single territory!” tentpole release. Honestly, after the rerelease of Avatar earned an additional $55 million (for a $260 million cume), I’m putting my metaphorical bucks on Avatar 2 just for fun.

China’s recent run of “just for us” tentpoles have been massively successful right at a time when (thanks to Covid-compromised overseas markets) Hollywood would prefer their blockbusters not become entirely inessential in China. Every pandemic-era Hollywood release aside from Shang-Chi ($390 million) and Black Widow ($380 million), think Tenet ($66 million out of $366 million), Godzilla Vs. Kong ($188 million/$468 million), F9 ($203 million/$716 million) and Free Guy ($95 million/$320 million), needed a boost from China. If Battle At Lake Changjin really is playing like a normal tentpole, that’s excellent news for Dune (arriving October 22) and No Time to Die (arriving October 29). The last thing either pricey tentpole wants to deal with is a still-robust Chinese blockbuster stealing the show.


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