In recent years, the worldwide box office figures have usurped the domestic numbers in terms of importance. Every once in a while, a non-starter like Warcraft ($47.3 million in the States) can end up turning a major profit for the studio thanks to international ticket sales. China in particular has become a key territory, as it’s currently the second-largest film market in the world, behind only the U.S. Granted, movies can find phenomenal success without ever being released in the country (see: Deadpool), but in the age of $1 billion or bust, securing a Chinese premiere is a borderline necessity.
Two films in March looking to make a dent at the box office are Logan and Kong: Skull Island, a pair of highly-anticipated franchise installments that have won audiences over with their marketing campaigns. Their distributors, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., respectively, recently received some good news as both of these projects will be among the few international imports that are shown in Chinese movie theaters.
According to THR, Logan will open in China on March 17, 2017, playing against Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Skull Island is set for a March 24, 2017 bow and has the date to itself. The two movies premiere in China two weeks after their scheduled North American releases. Legendary Pictures, which co-produced Kong with WB, has found a good deal of prosperity in China lately; Warcraft broke records in the country and finished with $221 million there, and the Matt Damon vehicle The Great Wall has earned $170 million in China – enough to make back its entire production budget before it’s released in America.
While Kong: Skull Island opening in China is not a shock, it is a little surprising to see Logan got through the censors. As stated above, last year’s Deadpool (which was also rated R) was banned from China, but apparently gritty, violent character-driven Westerns are more appropriate than crude, irreverent comedies. James Mangold’s previous X-Men entry, The Wolverine, also played in China and made $40.6 million. The series as a whole has done well in the country over the past few years. 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past grossed $116.4 million and X-Men: Apocalypse brought in $120.7 million. It will be interesting to see how Logan performs in China, since it’s a standalone Wolverine movie and not a bigger-spectacle film featuring an entire team of superheroes.
Though both films should benefit from screening in China, Kong: Skull Island arguably has more to gain. Whereas Logan is allegedly the final time Hugh Jackman will appear as Wolverine, Skull Island is the second installment in WB’s newly-dubbed MonsterVerse, which will eventually see Kong go head-to-head with Godzilla. The studio obviously has a lot riding on the film and needs it to do well so they can fully realize their plan. Godzilla brought in $77.6 million in 2014, so Chinese viewers definitely have a fondness for these kinds of pictures. Chances are, Kong is a hit there as well and gets the MonsterVerse truly up and running.