Earning a weekend box office of 856 million yuan ($125.12 million) in the Chinese mainland, Transformers: The Last Knight has proven once again China’s ability to act as a lifeline to ailing Hollywood blockbusters.
Premiering in the US and China on Friday, the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise took the No.1 spot in both markets.
Yet, while it only made an estimated $69 million in North America – “the lowest the franchise has seen thus far” according to Box Office Mojo – it ended up setting a new record for the franchise by beating out the 632 million yuan Transformers: Age of Extinction made during its first weekend in the mainland in 2014.
This breakout opening in the mainland is good news for the film, which cost an estimated $217 million to make, and demonstrates the strength of the Chinese market. According to data from Box Office Mojo, China accounted for 63 percent of the estimated $196 million The Last Knight made in non-US markets in its first weekend.
Despite poor audience reviews, The Last Knight was still able to dominate at mainland cinemas. On Saturday, with a screen share of 72 percent, Paramount’s sci-fi action flick took in 312.26 million yuan in a single day, accounting for 90.2 percent of box-office earnings in the mainland on Saturday.
Other competitors didn’t fare nearly as well.
Sci-fi horror flick Alien: Covenant came in at No.2 with 15 million yuan, while Hong Kong romance film 77 Heartbreaks followed in third with 14 million yuan.
Chinese film Paths of the Soul came in fourth with 13 million yuan.
Even Lion, the Oscar-nominated family feature, only earned 7.64 million yuan in its debut weekend, placing it at No.5.
Lion currently has a 7.3/10 on Chinese media review site Douban and a 7.4/10 on Chinese film site Mtime. By contrast, The Last Knight has a respective 4.8/10 and 6.0/10 on these two sites. Yet, good reviews seem to mean little, as Lion‘s screen share dropped from its high of 3.7 percent on Friday to a 3.1 percent on Sunday, while The Last Knight maintained an average of 70 percent over the weekend.
Over in the North American market, The Last Knight’s first place win ended up pushing Pixar’s Cars 3 into second place with $25.2 million in its second weekend.
Superhero film Wonder Woman narrowly fell to third place with $25.1 million in earnings.
The action film has made a total of $318.3 million in US ticket sales in four weeks, according to industry tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Film 47 Meters Down, the adventures of two sisters who fend off a shark attack after going cage diving, scored $7.4 million to come in fourth.
Coming in fifth was The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, which made $5.8 million.
The film – the latest revival of the original Mummy made in 1932 – cost $125 million to make and has been widely panned by critics.
Rounding out the NA top 10 were:
All Eyez On Me ($5.8 million)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($5.2 million)
Rough Night ($4.7 million)
Captain Underpants ($4.3 million)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 ($3 million)
— (Global Times)
Special coverage on China's Two Party Sessions by The Daily Mail - People's Daily