Talk about pent-up demand. Detective Chinatown 3, which was originally scheduled to hit Chinese cinemas during the Lunar New Year period in 2020, has sprung out of the gate today with an astonishing Maoyan-estimated RMB 1.05B ($163M) to score the biggest opening-day gross ever of any movie in a single market. The debut overtakes Avengers: Endgame’s previous record of $157M in North America, set on April 26, 2019. Included in that were Thursday previews — Detective Chinatown 3 did not have previews.
As reported yesterday, the film from Chen Sicheng had already set a new pre-sales record in the Middle Kingdom with over RMB 673M ($104M) for opening day. And then, the turnstiles really started to spin throughout the day on Friday. The buddy comedy threequel is being aided by a great 9.4 audience score on Maoyan, though its Douban critics score is lower at 6.6. Just how high it will go is still a matter of potential frontloading that we’ve seen in prior Spring Festival sessions, but given an essentially clear three-week runway, some sources are estimating a $1B+ finish for DC3 in China alone.
Detective Chinatown 3 was shot with IMAX cameras and is estimated to have grossed RMB 48M ($7.4M) in the screen format on Day One. This marks the biggest opening day ever for a Chinese movie in IMAX and the 3rd highest grossing IMAX opening day ever in China, behind Endgame (RMB 93.9M $14M) and Avengers: Infinity War (RMB 51.1M /$8.1M). Overall, IMAX is projecting a Chinese New Year opening record of RMB 50M/$7.7M from 3 titles, an 18% increase over CNY 2019.
What a difference a year is making for China which was the first country horribly hit by Covid and to go into severe lockdown, which also kiboshed the lucrative New Year frame for 2020.
Today marks the start of this year’s week-long Lunar New Year (aka Spring Festival) session that also includes six other new local releases.