Avengers: Endgame — How an early release in China helped Marvel juggernaut become country's third highest grosser

Surendhar MK

May 07, 2019 10:50:58 IST

Disney Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, with its mind-blowing running total of $576 million (3.88 billion yuan) in China, has outpaced local blockbusters such as Operation Red Sea ($575.8 million; 3.65 billion yuan) and Detective Chinatown 2 ($541.4 million; 3.39 billion yuan) to become the third top-grossing outing in mainland movie history.

Operation Red Sea and Detective Chinatown 2 released during the Lunar New Year period in 2018 and surpassed the lifetime total of the then industry hit in China, The Mermaid ($528 million). Both films were comfortably placed at the second and third spots in the all-time highest-grossing movies in China list, only behind the 2017 hit Wolf Warrior 2, which amassed a staggering total of $854 million (5.67 billion yuan). It was the first ever film in Chinese history to touch the 4 billion and 5 billion mark in local currency two years ago. However, with 2019 came The Wandering Earth, pulling in a mammoth theatrical revenue of $691.6 million (4.65 billion yuan). The film dethroned both Operation Red Sea and Detective Chinatown 2 to occupy the second spot in the all-time top-earning films list in the PRC.

Avengers: Endgame — How an early release in China helped Marvel juggernaut become countrys third highest grosser

Avengers: Endgame poster

Now, the Middle Kingdom total of Avengers: Endgame is only behind the lifetime earnings of local blockbusters such as Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth. According to Maoyan, China's popular movie ticketing, and box-office measurement platform, the Russo brothers-directed juggernaut is projected to pull in 4.13 billion yuan ($613 million) at the end of its theatrical run in the world's second-largest movie market. However, some trade pundits are optimistic about Endgame edging past the $650 million milestone in China.

This week is going to be crucial for Endgame since Rob Letterman's eagerly anticipated Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, which marks the first live-action/animated movie from the Pokémon franchise, is all set for a massive release in mainland China on 10 May.

As of 5 May, nearly 26.4 percent of Endgame's global total of $2.188 billion came from the Middle Kingdom. Disney's decision to release the film in China on 24 May, two days before the domestic release in North America and other international rollouts on 26 May, has really worked wonders for the Marvel tentpole and revived the much-needed momentum for Hollywood titles in the East Asian nation. The early China release strategy, some industry insiders predict, would change the distribution model of Hollywood in the future. In fact, Infinity War released in China on May 11, two weeks after the domestic release on April 27, 2018, and hauled in a lifetime total of $359 million.

Warner Bros.' blockbuster film Aquaman was released in China on 12 December, 2018, two weeks before the domestic rollout on 21 December. The film enjoyed phenomenal success in mainland China and took home earnings of $298.3 million to become the highest-grossing solo superhero movie of all time, besting all the MCU solo superhero movies in the Middle Kingdom. It's now the fifth highest import release ever in the PRC, only behind Endgame, The Fate of the Furious 8, Fast and Furious 7, and Infinity War. Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was released on 15 June in China, a week before the domestic release on 22 June, and raked in $261 million. It's currently the ninth highest-grossing import film of all time.

Endgame has smashed more than 25 box-office records in China and set new benchmarks for even local films in the PRC. The May Day box-office period of 1-4 May contributed a vast sum of 1.2 billion yuan (178.3 million) to the MCU finale. While the Asian region is generally reserved as the last rollout in the international territories for English language films, the massive box-office potential that China offers is rewriting the distribution game of Hollywood studios.

Thanks to the early release in China, Endgame has now become the first ever Hollywood film to earn half-a-billion-dollar in a single market outside of North America. According to China's state-owned news agency Xinhua, Hollywood's market-share in China slipped from 2017's 46.2 percent to 37.8 percent in 2018 because of the resurgence of homegrown blockbusters such as Operation Red Sea, Detective Chinatown 2, Hello Mr. Billionaire, and Dying to Survive. The rampant piracy in the PRC is also credited as another major reason for Endgame to open first in China.

For our complete coverage of Avengers: Endgame, click here.


Updated Date: May 07, 2019 10:50:58 IST

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