Here’s the list of Hollywood movies that had bigger opening weekends than Justice League in China this year:
Fate of the Furious – $193 million
Transformers: The Last Knight – $124 million
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – $94 million
Kong: Skull Island – $72 million
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – $66 million
Spider-Man: Homecoming – $66 million
Despicable Me 3 – $64 million
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage – $62 million
War For the Planet of the Apes – $58 million
Thor: Ragnarok – $54 million
Add to that list the four Chinese films that bettered Justice League’s debut this year, and you’ve got 14 movies that opened stronger than the Warner/DC superhero tent-pole.
As far as I know, not one of those pictures cost as much, took as long to develop, or had more valuable IP behind it than Justice League. Certainly none of them had as much riding on their success, because Justice League was supposed to be not only the crown jewel of the DC empire, it was also supposed to be the springboard for the success of future pictures like Aquaman, Cyborg, and Justice League 2.
To all of which China has yawned and said, “Meh.”
Justice League opened with $51 million in China this weekend, slightly below Thor: Ragnarok’s numbers, and has trailed further behind the MCU picture—which released two weeks ago—with each successive day. Its 32 percent Saturday-to-Sunday drop is bigger than the 27 percent Thorexperienced in its first weekend. Thor: Ragnarok has collected $106 million in the PRC through Sunday, and should finish up at around $112 million. Because Justice League isn’t holding as well, the $51 million that it has earned so far is indicative of a probable sub-$100 million total.
When the Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment executives who oversaw Justice League received their import approval for China, they probably looked at the $240 million PRC gross earned by Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, licked their lips and thought “Great!” Maybe they even considered this year’s Fate of the Furious and its $381 million with anticipation, thinking of it as a target.
But no one, I’m certain of this, no one could have dreamt even in their deepest, darkest nightmares that the target now would be the $88 million earned in China this past April by A Dog’s Purpose. A humble little movie with no stars, no meaningful IP, little prior audience awareness, a picture that focuses mainly on the thoughts inside the head of a reincarnated dog, now stands as Justice League’s Mt. Everest.
Justice League now needs a 1.73x multiple on its opening weekend gross to move past A Dog’s Purpose and become one of China’s 25 top-grossing movies this year. It’s an achievable goal, but by no means a certainty. Resident Evil‘s multiple was 1.70x, and it finished at $158 million in China. Transformers 5’s was 1.75x, which took it to $224 million.
Forget about Avengers, Fate of the Furious, and Wolf Warriors. Thor: Ragnarok. Forget about Ant-Man or Spider-Man or Thor: Ragnarok. In China, Justice League is now in the dog house.
By Rob Cain