“Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms,” the first part of Wuershan’s big-budget “Fengshen Trilogy,” topped the mainland China box office for the second weekend and expanded its week-on-week haul by 35%.
‘Barbie’ also showed signs of resilience in a market where it opened a week earlier in a disappointing fifth place.
“Creation of the Gods I” grossed $57.6 million. according to data from consultancy firm Artisan Gateway. That compares with $42.6 million in it opening frame and after 11 days in Chinese theaters, it has earned $156 million. Also, unlike its first weekend, “Creation of the Gods” was the winner on each day between Friday and Sunday.
The “Fengshen Trilogy” set out to be a mega scale blending of history, folklore and mythology from more than 3,000 years ago, that would be China’s answer to both “Lord of the Rings” and “Iron Man.” It counts of Barrie Osborne (“Lord of the Rings”) as production consultant and Bill Kong (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) among its executive producers.
The strong hold meant that it was a good distance ahead of “One and Only,” a youth which was the highest-ranked new release with a somewhat disappointing $36.2 million debut.
A youth comedy set in the street-dance milieu, directed by Da Peng, “One and Only” stars comedian Huang Bo and rising star Wang Yibo as well as a large supporting cast. Including revenues from its earlier previews, the film has $53.8 million in the bank.
Imax reported that “Creation of the Gods I”earned $5.5 million of its weekend total on its screens, reaching an Imax cumulative of $18.5 million, or some 12% of its China cumulative, from fewer than 1% of the country’s screens. “One and Only” also took $1.6 million on Imax screens in China.
The weekend’s surprise package was “Barbie.” The film remained in fifth place on its second weekend of release in China, with $7.3 million. But its week-on-week decline was a modest 11% compared with an opening of $8.2 million. After 10 days on release it has amassed $25.5 million.
While the film’s initial disappointment may have been explained by Chinese audiences’ relative unfamiliarity with the Barbie doll and muted infatuation with American pop culture, discussion of the movie has nevertheless become a hot topic.
“Barbie” has ignited discussion of feminism and female gender roles in a Chinese society that remains male-dominated and been a trending topic on social media for several days. “Barbie” also represents something of an antidote to Chinese cinema’s diet of patriotic (and frequently patriarchal) movie output.
Third place over the weekend belonged to “Chang An” (aka “Chang An 30,000 Miles”), a Chinese animation which is in its fourth weekend of release, which grossed $22.4 million over the latest weekend . After 23 days on release it has already accumulated $213 million, making it one of the top-scoring Chinese-produced animation titles of all time.
Fourth place belonged to “Never Say Never,” written and directed by actor Wang Baoqiang (“Lost in Thailand,” “Detective Chinatown”), with $12 million in its fourth weekend. Its cumulative now stands at $287 million after 25 days on release.
Artisan Gateway reports that total weekend box office was worth $147 million. That lifts the running total for 2023 to $4.90 billion, which the consultancy firm calculates is only 6% below the same point in pre-pandemic 2019.