Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone worked some magic in China on Friday with Warner Bros’ 3D reissue conjuring $4.6M. This is by far the biggesst single-day gross since cinemas resumed operations, overtaking the opening of WB’s earlier re-release of Chirstopher Nolan’s Interstellar by 66% (though that film bowed on a Sunday). Overall, China’s fourth Friday back to the movies is the biggest yet, crossing the RMB 60M mark to hit about $9.2M. This was aided by capacity restrictions being shifted from 30% to 50% in some areas. There are now over 8,000 locations reopened throughout the Middle Kingdom.
Harry, Ron and Hermione are not the only game in town, however, as local Chinese war epic The Eight Hundred began previews today, generating about $2.1M from roughly 6,000 screenings. The controversial title was originally scheduled to debut at the Shanghai Film Festival in 2019, but was abruptly yanked and never made its summer release date last year. No official reasons were given, but it’s believed that the movie was sending a political message that was not acceptable to key members of the Chinese military regarding revolutionary history. Edits were subsequently made and while there are no social or critical scores as yet, buzz is good.
This is the first Chinese movie fully shot with IMAX cameras and has a big IMAX component in China where it will also be in sneaks during the week running up to the official launch day of August 21. It will then go out via CMC Pictures in North America, Australia and New Zealand beginning August 28.
Turning back to the boy wizard, when the first Potter movie (also known as Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone) was released in the Middle Kingdom it made RMB 56M ($8M), a number it will handily pass this weekend. The movies increased in popularity over the course of the franchise and as the Chinese market grew. If Sorcerer’s Stone can get $15.8M to apparate during this run in the Middle Kingdom, it will become only the 2nd title in the series to cross $1B worldwide. That’s based on all releases of HP1 combined since 2001.
Also releasing in China this weekend, Sony’s Bad Boys For Life grossed $950K on Friday, landing in 3rd place. The previous movies in the series did not make it to the market so there’s no straight comp, but this one is carrying a solid 8.5 on Douban.
Interstellar for it’s part has grossed $14.7M so far in this China run, was the No. 1 movie during the midweeks and has passed $700M worldwide.
While Universal’s Dolittle has enjoyed a strong stint since getting to China on July 24 ($18M through Friday), some of the so-called ‘new’ Hollywood titles haven’t made a giant splash. This is to be expected as the market has only just come back online with stringent capacity and screening restrictions in place. Even if scores have been very positive (as in the case of Ford V Ferrari, for example), factors also impacting the return to cinemas include demographics (families are not rushing out with little kids), piracy and the event nature of some of the re-releases.
In the latter case, movies that demand the big screen experience have been the top choice: think Interstellar, Sam Mendes’ 1917 which won last weekend, and this Harry Potter which has been eventized in a 4K 3D restoration.
More updates to come through the weekend.