‘Tomb Raider’ Bucks the Growing China Box-Office Trend, That No One is Paying Attention To

Tomb Raider – Opening Weekend, $41.6MM / Second Weekend Drop 32%

By Ryan Carroll, Editor-at-Large

April, 2018.

  • Tomb Raider – Opening Weekend, $41.6MM / Second Weekend Drop 32%
  • Black Panther – Opening Weekend, $67MM / Second Weekend Drop 56%
  • Maze Runner: Death Cure – Opening Weekend, $21.6MM / Second Weekend Drop 80%
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Opening Weekend $40MM / Second Weekend Drop 80%
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising – Opening Weekend, $65MM / Second Weekend Drop 86%
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Opening Weekend, $28.7MM / Second Weekend Drop 92%

Though it has only made $77.6MM to date, after 3 weeks, and will probably top-off around $80. Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider is arguably the most successful Hollywood film released in China so-far this year.

This box-office take is on par with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle‘s end result in China with just barely under $78MM, and not far off of Marvel’s Black Panther‘s $103MM. Making the Marvel film the most successful Hollywood film of 2018, to-date. A film that saw a Friday-to-Friday drop of 88%!

Leading many commentators to compare its box-office failure to that of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a film that had a 94% Friday-to-Friday drop, much to do with cinema chains in China pulling it from 92% of its overall screens in the second week, to make room for a few highly successful local films. Not something that was entirely Star Wars‘ fault, as many were jumped to claim.

But, Black Panther pounced back over the remainder of the weekend to garnish the second lowest 2nd weekend box-office drop of the year at 56%. As it went toe-to-toe with a popular video game IP Tomb Raider. A movie that has not been hugely successful, but one that has shown reliable legs in the Middle Kingdom with an incredibly low 32% drop in its second weekend.

Let us take in mind that China is a market known for notorious box-office drop-offs, be it from Hollywood or local films, so when The Last Jedi tumbled in dramatic fashion in China. It honestly should not have been a monumental surprise.

I also argued in the linked article above that the release dates of the new Star Wars films have adversely effected its overall box-office take. Being released in January in the lead-up to the Chinese Chun jie Spring Festival, and if these films were released at the height of summer – in a non blackout period – they would done slightly better.

Beyond The Last Jedi‘s 92% second weekend drop, and Black Panther‘s 88% Friday-to-Friday drop (that was not the full picture), none of the trades have been focusing on the emerging trend of Hollywood films second weekend box-office that has been emerging as the Chinese cinema going market matures.

A trend that continued in Jumanji 2‘s second weekend drop of 80%, slashing analysts’ projects by half for its final take. A trend that followed closely to that of The Last Jedi and was a trend that also suffered from the Chun jie New Year lead-up.

A trend that no-one; either noticed or cared to notice.

A trend that continued just four weeks after Jedi was released, and two weeks after Jumanji, in Maze Runner: Death Cure seeing its own 80% drop in its second weekend.

Maze Runner 3‘s drop before the second weekend was much less dramatic if you take in its first 10 day total of $38.1MM. Meaning that the film stayed strong through the week up until the following weekend, were new releases, mostly local, pushed it down.

Maze Runner 3 saw its total box-office take in China (typically 30 days by regulation) at $49.7MM. A very healthy finish, from a $21.6MM opening weekend, of a franchise that has shown reliability rather than huge box-office numbers in China.

Pacific Rim: Uprising was the film that I was waiting for the most this year at the China box-office. A film that is a sequel to one of the first Hollywood films that made more money, a few million mind you, in China than it did in North America, and is the first Hollywood sequel to be greenlit from China’s box-office alone.

The non-Guillermo Del Toro robots vs. monster movie had a good but great opening weekend, and with just a 86% drop. It is a movie that is running above average for a Hollywood film in 2018, if you consider its 10 day total that results in only a 62%, but in the end it will be considered a disappointment and most likely top out around $100MM.

Pacific Rim is a valuable IP, but without the Guillermo Del Toro Brand behind it. The IP itself loses much of its value.

It’s a shame there are no longer Saturday Morning Cartoons, as Pacific Rim would have been the best candidate of new IP coming out of Hollywood, and would have solidify its merchandising possibilities. Something I think has been poorly under developed and is its greatest missed opportunity.

This past weekend Ready Player One has a made a slash, in the largest Virtual Reality market and the largest eSports market – by far – in the world. Taking in a very healthy $61.9MM, much like its gaming-ish movie siblings Pacific Rim: UprisingJumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Tomb Raider all of these films have had a better opening weekend in China, than they did North America.

I am expecting Ready Player One to have your standard second weekend drop, but I would not be surprised if it either has; 10 day total legs that is similar to Maze Runner 3 / Pacific Rim 2, or a lower second weekend drop like Black Panther did. What I would be surprised to see is, a second weekend drop that is more along the lines of Tomb Raider, mostly due to its larger opening weekend figures.

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About the Author
Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.