by Christopher Nolan Oppenheimer rose to $47.2 million in China this weekend, continuing its better-than-expected run in the world’s second-largest box office territory. But the blockbuster biopic had to give up the top spot to the Chinese crime thriller Dust to dustwhich came on strong with a two-day opening of $22.2 million from Saturday, at the top Oppenheimer‘s $9.6 million from Friday through Sunday, according to data from box office tracker Artisan Gateway.
Chinese ticketing app Maoyan predictions Oppenheimer will close its local run with approximately $57 million, making it the fourth-biggest US film release in China of 2023, behind Quick ($139.5 million), Meg 2: The trench ($116.5 million, but a Chinese co-production) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($86.9 million).
Despite the long duration and the weighty historical subject – which many analysts expected to be an obstacle in China – Oppenheimer has been reinforced by an enthusiastic local reception. On the influential fan platform Douban, the film has received almost half a million reviews with an average of 8.8, one of the highest scores of any Hollywood film in recent history. On the ticket services Tao Piao Piao from Maoyan and Alibaba, this is an average of 9.4 and 9.6 respectively.
Dust to dustthe top title of the weekend, is the first feature from Jonathan Li, who cut his teeth as an assistant director on several Hong Kong crime classics, including Hellish business 3, Dog bites dogand the Heard series.
A crime thriller starring popular comedian Da Peng and actor Zhang Songwen (starring role in the recent hit TV drama The Knockout), the film is based on a real-life 1995 armed robbery in which a group of five thieves ambushed a cash-in-transit vehicle in Guangdong, killing three bank couriers and escaping millions. Three of the perpetrators were quickly apprehended, but the two masterminds disappeared without a trace – until they suddenly reappeared twenty years later. Dust to dust follows a police detective who has always been haunted by the case and who comes out of retirement to put it all together. The premiere took place at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June.
Crime thriller sensation No more betting came in third for the weekend, adding $7.7 million to its massive $520 million total. The film, produced by Ning Hao, has been dominant in Chinese cinemas since its release on August 8.
Fantasy epic Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms scored fourth place with $3.4 million, bringing the total to $357.1 million. North American viewers will get the chance to watch the film, described by fans as “China’s answer to Lord of the Rings‘ and critically acclaimed for its production values, on September 22, thanks to a domestic distribution deal recently signed by Well Go USA.
On Friday the action film from Millennium Films Expend4bles and 20th century A ghost tour in Venice, the latest Hercule Poirot mystery starring Kenneth Branagh, premieres in China. Previous entries into the two franchises have yielded mixed results. Murder on the Orient Express earned $35 million in 2017, while Death on the Nilereleased while China was still struggling with pandemic lockdowns, it grossed $10.8 million.
The first three Consumables films – released in 2010, 2012 and 2014 – earned $31.7 million, $53 million and $72.8 million respectively. The Chinese audience has evolved a lot since the last entry, so Expend4bles will be a useful test of the market’s demand for Hollywood action.