James Bond franchise movie “No Time to Die” claimed the honor of deposing record-breaking local film “The Battle At Lake Changjin” from the top of the Chinese box office, but 007’s unspectacular first day will leave studio and audiences neither shaken nor stirred.
Throughout Friday, “No Time to Die” tracked comfortably at the top of the Chinese chart, with market share as high as 55% in the morning sessions. By midnight local time, that had fallen to 49% and the film grossed RMB49.7 million ($7.76 million), including online fees, according to ticketing agency and industry tracker Maoyan.
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Including midnight previews, Bond’s day one aggregate hit RMB52 million ($8.12 million).
The last Bond film, “Spectre,” opened with a $44 million first weekend in China back in 2015 before going on to achieve an $84 million lifetime score in the Middle Kingdom.
Given that small COVID outbreaks have recently reinstated cinema restrictions in certain cities, and that Chinese audiences have increasingly turned away from Hollywood films over the past couple of years, few in the industry would expect “No Time to Die” to reach “Spectre” levels. Maoyan’s initial projections are for the film to reach RMB 499 million ($77.9 million) in its China run.
Bond’s Friday numbers, however, seem closer to those of “Dune,” which opened a week earlier. “Dune” scored $6 million on its first day and finished the weekend with $21.6 million.
On Friday, “Dune” had slipped to third place in the Chinese chart. “Lake Changjin,” in second place, now has a cumulative total of RMB5.39 billion ($842 million), earned from 29 days on release. After eight days in Chinese cinemas, “Dune” has amassed RMB187 million ($29.2 million).
Earlier this week, box office research firm Gower Street Analytics underlined the importance of China to the global exhibition industry. For the second year in a row, China is on track to be the world’s single largest box office market. According to Gower Street’s forecast, China will single-handedly account for 34% of global theatrical revenues in 2021, lifting Asia’s share of turnstile take to 52% this year.
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