Is ‘Oppenheimer’ in China maintaining its momentum, nearing $60M at the box office?

The China box office continues to be dominated by Christopher Nolan’s film “Oppenheimer,” which is nearing the $60 million mark. Despite a somewhat lackluster weekend for moviegoing in China, “Oppenheimer” added $2.5 million from Friday to Sunday, bringing its total to $58.1 million. The film currently sits in fourth place for the weekend, behind local crime thriller “Dust to Dust,” Millennium Pictures’ action franchise misfire “Expend4bles,” and Chinese comedy blockbuster “No More Bets.”

One of the factors contributing to the success of “Oppenheimer” in China is its popularity on Imax screens. The film earned $740,000 over the weekend, bringing its total in the Imax format to $17 million, which accounts for a significant 30 percent of its nationwide earnings so far.

“Oppenheimer” opened in China almost a month ago, and it has shown considerable staying power. Christopher Nolan has a strong following in China, and Universal Pictures leveraged this by organizing a well-received pre-release promotional visit to Beijing by the director in late August. In terms of total box office earnings in China, “Oppenheimer” now sits in the middle of Nolan’s filmography, with “Interstellar” leading the pack at $139 million, followed by “Inception” at $68 million and “Tenet” at $66 million.

In addition, “Oppenheimer” is currently the fourth-biggest U.S. film release in China for the year 2023, trailing behind “Fast X” ($139.5 million), “Meg 2: The Trench” ($116.5 million, but a China co-production), and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” ($86.9 million).

The top title for the weekend in China was “Dust to Dust,” the directorial debut of Jonathan Li, who previously worked as an assistant director on various Hong Kong crime classics. The crime thriller earned $7.6 million over the weekend, bringing its total to $57.1 million.

Sylvester Stallone’s “Expend4bles” continued to underwhelm in China, earning $4.3 million over the weekend for a total of $19.4 million. This marks a significant drop in performance compared to the first three films in the franchise, which earned $31.7 million, $53 million, and $72.8 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, crime thriller sensation “No More Bets” maintained its strong performance, earning $2.7 million over the weekend and bringing its total to an impressive $531.7 million. This film, produced by Ning Hao, has been a dominant force at Chinese multiplexes since its release on August 8.

On the other hand, 20th Century’s “A Haunting in Venice,” the latest installment in the Hercule Poirot mystery franchise starring Kenneth Branagh, has underperformed in China. It failed to make it into the top five over the weekend and has only earned around $5 million. Previous entries in the franchise fared better, with “Murder on the Orient Express” earning $35 million in 2017 and “Death on the Nile” bringing in $10.8 million, despite the challenges of being released during pandemic lockdowns.

Looking ahead, the only U.S. release hitting Chinese screens next weekend will be Paramount’s “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” which will go up against several new Chinese titles, including Herman Yau’s and Andy Lau’s action tentpole “Operation Moscow.”