China Box Office: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Makes $28 Million Debut
8th May 2023

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” made $28 million of gross box office on its opening weekend in mainland China. That was a solid result in present circumstances, rather than an overwhelming one.

The film easily displaced two of the weaker Chinese titles that had been released a week earlier to take advantage of the five-day May Day holiday season.

“Born to Fly,” a patriotic action adventure about Chinese test pilots, nose-dived by 75% as it fell from a $40 million first place debut to a $11.2 million third-placed second flap. Its cumulative after two weekends is $77.3 million, according to weekend data from consultancy Artisan Gateway.

Love for Chinese romance “All These Years” also quickly dissipated. It fell from a third-placed opening weekend of $18.7 million to a fourth ranked second weekend of $3.8 million and a 10-day cumulative of $36.7 million.

Holding up significantly better was Chinese-made comedy road trip movie “Godspeed,” which held on to second place with a second weekend haul of $15.3 million. After ten days on release, it has amassed $99.1 million.

After a thin 2022 for Hollywood import titles in China, the current year represents a return to more normalized business dealings. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” was approved for release in China several weeks ago, enabling a properly-prepared marketing campaign. And it benefited from a simultaneous release with that in North America and many international territories.

Its debut weekend was the strongest opening by a Hollywood film in 2023 and the second biggest of the past 16 months behind “Avatar: The Way of Water.” And Imax reported that “Guardians” earned $5.6 million, or 19% of its China total, on its screens. But half a dozen Chinese films have had bigger (holiday-assisted) openings. And two Japanese animation titles “Suzume” and “The First Slam Dunk” have had stronger non-holiday debuts in China this year.

With the exception of “Avatar 2,” Hollywood’s return to China is proving to be a slow-burn process, rather than an overnight comeback. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” seems unlikely to reach the heights of its franchise predecessors.

Chinese ticketing agency Maoyan is forecasting that “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” will achieve a $74 million total over the course of its run in China. That compares with $86.3 million for the first “Guardians” movie in 2014 and the $101 million made by “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in 2017.

Nationwide aggregate box office over the weekend slumped back to $62.6 million after the $120 million May Day highs. Artisan Gateway calculates that China’s box office for the year to date stands at $2.91 billion. That is 36% better than a desperate 2022, but 20% below the same point during 2019.

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