Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny may have opened soft in North America with $60 million, but it outright bombed in China, where filmgoers have little to no emotional connection to the classic adventure franchise.
Expectations for the Disney and Lucasfilm tentpole were always low in China, but the film’s $2.3 million opening from Friday to Sunday is on the far low end of most analysts’ already low forecasts. None of the first four films in the Indiana Jones franchise were distributed in China, so the country’s geriatric millennials — not to mention its Gen Zs and below — harbor no nostalgia for Harrison Ford’s octogenarian hero.
Dial of Destiny has been relatively well liked by those who have seen and rated it in China. It currently has respectable social scores of 8.8 from the ticketing app Maoyan, 8.9 on Alibaba’s Tao Piao Piao and 7.3 on Douban. Nevertheless, Maoyan projects the film to top out in China with just $3.8 million. With a hefty $295 million production budget before marketing, Dial of Destiny is the most expensive US studio tentpole to perform that poorly in China.
The top spots at the box office over the weekend were held by local Chinese hits — continuing a growing trend of domestic fare far out-performing imported Hollywood movies in the market.
Mystery thriller Lost in the Starsproduced and written by local hitmaker Chen Sicheng (Detective Chinatown), was again dominant in its second weekend, surpassing its opening with a $116.8 million haul from Friday to Sunday, according to data from Artisan Gateway. After 11 days on screens, the film, distributed by Alibaba Pictures, has earned a whopping $319.6 million. Maoyan forecasts it to finish with over $450 million.
Second place went to Never Say Neverdirected by and starring Wang Baoqiang (Detective Chinatown, Lost in Thailand). The inspirational fight film is based on a true story about a retired armed Chinese police officer who opened a mixed martial arts club in Sichuan province, training orphans into champion fighters. The film technically doesn’t release until July 6, but it has received expansive “preview screenings,” earning $25.6 million over the weekend for a total of $38.9 million to date.
Love Never Ends, a romance about elder love starring veteran actors Ni Dahong, Kara Wai, Tony Leung and Ye Tong, slipped to third place with $10.7 million. After two frames, its total sits at $45 million, a healthy haul given its subject matter.
Local titles will have free reign in China over the next two weeks until Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One opens July 14.
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