Date
20 August 2017
Fans gather at the Hong Kong premiere of the latest installment of the sci-fi franchise. Transformers: Age Of Extinction has taken mainland China by storm. Photo: AFP
Fans gather at the Hong Kong premiere of the latest installment of the sci-fi franchise. Transformers: Age Of Extinction has taken mainland China by storm. Photo: AFP

What’s big in the US and bigger in China?

A movie featuring a gleaming Chinese skyline will be a no-brainer in the mainland but Transformers: Age Of Extinction is inspiring a lot of headscratching — it’s a bigger hit in China than in the United States.

So big, in fact, it’s setting records and showing a rare feat for a Hollywood movie, according to Bloomberg.

The United States is the world’s biggest film market by revenue and hits such as the latest installment of the sci-fi franchise routinely go on to top the domestic box office more than it does in other countries.

Not this time, and not China.

Sales in the mainland, the world’s No. 2 film market, have topped US$134.5 million since Paramount Pictures released the film on June 27, according to Box Office Mojo.

Revenue in US and Canadian theaters was a combined US$121 million as of July 1.

The lower takings in the world’s two most bankable markets don’t mean Hollywood is losing out to China.

Instead, China’s rise as a cinematic powerhouse — as a source of moviegoing demand to be exact — is being celebrated in the town of make-believe as a real opportunity to break into what could be the world’s biggest film market anytime soon.

Viacom, Paramount’s parent, saw that opportunity and seized it by tapping China Movie Media Group as its marketing partner for the movie.

The producers also signed sponsorship agreements that included commitments to shoot in China which led to its most iconic buildings co-starring with the shape-shifting machines.

Zhang Genming, chief executive of China Movie Media, was all praises for his US partners but the box office record speaks for itself.

In the five days since it opened in China, Transformers broke the previous tally for The Monkey King, a Hong Kong-produced feature released in January.

And it’s on course to overhaul the US$217.7 million record total in the country for Avatar, the top-grossing film of all time.

Finally, here’s something for perspective. Sales for US movies in China seldom top domestic revenue. Last year’s top movie worldwide, Walt Disney’s Frozen, collected US$1.26 billion globally, including US$401 million in the US and US$48.2 million in China.

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RA

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