Aamir Khan grapples for China box office summit
Runaway Indian wrestling blockbuster Dangal storms into second spot behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
They might have set out to save the universe and conquer the planet, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 didn’t have everything their own way this week. The Marvel blockbuster topped the charts in both China (current tally: US$51.3 million) and South Korea (current tally: US$13.8 million), but it was the runners-up that made the big news.
The eye-opener at the Chinese box office this past weekend was the arrival of the Aamir Khan vehicle, Dangal, in the No 2 spot. Released in India in late December, the story of a wrestler whose two daughters grow up to be wrestling champions became the biggest Indian film ever in early 2017. It has been a long road to China, but the weekend take of US$11.2 million was worth the wait.
Pundits have suggested the Hindi superstar’s appearance at April’s Beijing International Film Festival helped give Dangal a significant lift. But it’s worth noting that Khan’s previous film, P.K., also opened in China in the No 2 slot, in May 2015, when it also opened the same week as another hyped-up Marvel event picture, Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Khan may well hope his next Chinese release comes when there is no Marvel movie in sight (will there ever be such a time?), but the producers of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion have been bolstered by Dangal’s success. Shobu Yarlagadda, producer of S.S. Rajamouli’s film – which is wowing the subcontinent and breaking Dangal’s records – announced on Monday that a Mandarin dubbing of Baahubli 2 is his first priority, with Japanese and Korean dubbed versions to quickly follow.
Following Dangal in China is Herman Yau’s bomb disposal blockbuster, Shock Wave. The Andy Lau vehicle picked up US$6.4 million over the weekend to reach its tally of US$49.1 million. Further down the line in fourth place, The Fate of the Furious picked up US$4.2 million over the weekend (total US$384 million), keeping an edge over Leste Chen’s hi-tech murder mystery, Battle of Memories, which took US$3.8 million over the weekend to reach its total of US$38.3 million.
Despite the aforementioned haul of US$13.1 million, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 encountered serious competition in South Korea as well. The Marvel flag-bearer started early with previews last Tuesday and began the weekend on a strong note, but the Busan-set crime comedy The Sheriff in Town out-gunned the intergalactic superheroes on Saturday and Sunday to pull in a total gross of US$10 million.
Friday night also saw ticket sales for The Boss Baby spike (total US$8.5 million) before it fell in behind The Sheriff and Guardians for the rest of the weekend. Since then, the DreamWorks animation has held third place, blocking comical Chosun-era murder mystery The King’s Case Note, which ran at a steady fourth all weekend and is now on a cumulative total of US$10.4 million.
Things remained stable in Japan throughout the rest of the Golden Week holidays. Beauty and the Beast held on to the top spot for the third week in a row, contributing US$7.9 million to its total of US$59.5 million. Likewise, Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter is still on the case in second spot for the third week in a row, with a cumulative tally of US$47.9 million. The Fate of the Furious (known in Japan as Wild Speed: Ice Break) held third place for the second week running with a cumulative tally of US$22.4 million.
Nothing changed in the Japanese top 10 until fourth place. With veteran journeyman director Furuhata Yasuo (Railroad Man) at the helm, Tsuioku, a suspenseful story of a murder that reunites three childhood friends – one as a victim, one as a suspect and one as a detective – took in US$2 million. Distributor Toho predicts that business from the older generation will improve for Tsuioku now that the holiday period is over.