In 2005, there were roughly 4,425 movie screens in China. That number was representative of a country and culture that had produced some truly great films over the years – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2000 – but was never really thought of as a box office powerhouse. However, a series of rules and cultural changes helped the Chinese theater business boom almost overnight. There are currently roughly 41,000 movie screens in China, and over 1.3 billion movie tickets were sold in the country in 2016. China is on pace to become the most significant box office force in the world.
However, the current culture of cinema in China sometimes leads to some…unusual box office hits. Because of China’s still-stringent rules on both the content of films allowed to screen in the country as well as the number of films screened there, there’s a growing list of movies that bombed in America and other parts of the world that went on to become huge hits in China. While many movies that are popular in Western markets also so happen to be popular in China, other box office hits may leave you with a shocked look on your face.
These are 15 Movies You Had No Idea Were REALLY Popular In China.
Honorable Mentions: Transformers/The Fast and the Furious
These film franchises are listed as honorable mentions for the simple reason that many of you may be aware that they’re huge in China and many other places in the world as well. However, you might not know just how popular these franchises are in China. For instance, did you know that two of the top five grossing movies in Chinese film history are Fast and the Furious films? Did you know that Fate of the Furious grossed over $350 million in China alone? The film series could only release in China and still be box office sensations.
Transformers, meanwhile, continues to grow in popularity in China. Two Transformers films appear on the list of the top-10 grossing movies in the country’s history. Transformers: The Last Knight’s opening weekend in China even accounted for over 63% of the film’s international opening gross. While the property wasn’t necessarily a big deal in China prior to the debut of these films, giant fighting robots is just one of those universally entertaining things, it seems.
15. Robocop 3D
While some people think of RoboCop as just another ‘80s action movie, many more people know that it’s actually an incredibly intelligent film. The movie’s musings on topics such as consumerism and industrial power are just as relevant as RoboCop’s portrayal of Detroit as a metropolis in decline. As such, Western audiences were either hostile or indifferent to the idea of a RoboCop remake, and the 2014 film’s box office returns in those markets reflect that lack of enthusiasm.
However, RoboCop 3D was a tremendous success in China. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, they didn’t release the RoboCop remake in 3D” that’s because they didn’t release it in 3D in your market. Sony believed that China’s obsession with 3D films would help bolster the appeal of RoboCop in that country, and they were absolutely right. RoboCop made $21 million in China over the course of three days. For perspective, RoboCop only made $51 million in the United States over the course of three weekends.