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China Box Office: ‘Oppenheimer’ Still Holding Strong, Nears $60M

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer nudged near the $60 million mark in China during a somewhat downbeat weekend for moviegoing in the world’s second-largest theatrical territory. 

The Universal Pictures-backed historical blockbuster added $2.5 million from Friday to Sunday, taking its total to $58.1 million, according to data from box office tracker Artisan Gateway. Oppenheimer came in fourth place for the frame behind local crime thriller Dust to Dust, Millennium Pictures’ action franchise misfire Expend4bles and Chinese comedy blockbuster No More Bets. 

Oppenheimer has been huge on Imax in China. The film earned $740,000 this past weekend for a $17 million total in the format, which is a whopping 30 percent of its nationwide cume to date. 

Oppenheimer opened in China nearly a month ago and its staying power has been considerable. Nolan has a strong following in China — a fact that Universal leveraged with a very well-received pre-release promotional visit to Beijing by the director in late August. Oppenheimer now sits near the middle of his filmography in terms of total box-office earnings in the country: Interstellar ($139 million), Inception ($68 million), Tenet ($66 million), Oppenheimer ($58.1 million), Dark Knight Rises ($52.7 million) and Dunkirk ($51 million).

Oppenheimer is also the fourth-biggest U.S. film release in China of 2023 behind Fast X ($139.5 million), Meg 2: The Trench ($116.5 million, but a China co-production) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($86.9 million). 

Dust to Dust, the weekend’s top title, is the first feature from Jonathan Li, who cut his teeth as an assistant director on several Hong Kong crime classics, including Infernal Affairs 3, Dog Bite Dog and the Overheard series. The crime thriller earned $7.6 million for the weekend. Its total is $57.1 million. 

Sylvester Stallone’s Expend4bles inched along with a $4.3 million weekend in second place. The film has been a disappointment both in China and globally. Its China total is now $19.4 million and Mayoyan projects it to top out at around $23 million. The first three Expendables films — released in 2010, 2012 and 2014 — earned $31.7 million, $53 million and $72.8 million, respectively. 

Crime thriller sensation No More Bets came in third for the weekend, adding $2.7 million and lifting its enormous total to $531.7 million. The film, produced by Ning Hao, has been dominant at Chinese multiplexes since its Aug. 8 release.

20th Century’s A Haunting in Venice, the latest Hercule Poirot mystery starring Kenneth Branagh, also has underperformed in China. It didn’t manage to crack the top five in the country this past weekend and it has earned only about $5 million. Previous entries in the two franchises have generated mixed results but performed notably better than the new installment. Murder on the Orient Express earned $35 million in 2017, while Death on the Nile, released while China was still struggling under pandemic lockdowns, brought in $10.8 million.

Paramount’s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie will be the only U.S. release hitting Chinese screens on Friday. It will face off against several new Chinese titles, including Herman Yau’s and Andy Lau’s action tentpole Operation Moscow. 

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