‘Justice League’ rules China with $52-million debut as national box office breaks a record

Ezra Miller, from left, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot in "Justice League."
Ezra Miller, from left, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot in “Justice League.”
(Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Associated Press)

The highly anticipated superhero film “Justice League” topped China’s box office last week with a solid $52.1 million in ticket sales.

The box office haul was 30% more than Warner Bros.’ previous release “Wonder Woman,” but 10% short of its 2016 massive hit “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” according to film consulting firm Artisan Gateway.

Last week also marked a milestone for China’s box office, which surpassed $7.55 billion in ticket revenue for the first time, the Chinese government announced.


The figure surpassed total revenues in 2016 ($6.58 billion) and reflected a rebound in annual growth from last year’s dismal 3.7% increase to a much healthier 15% this year.

“Justice League” only narrowly underperformed “Thor: Ragnarok,” which opened earlier this month with $54.7 million and is still the most popular film in 10 other Asian countries.

Chinese viewers were drawn to “Justice League’s” special effects and superhero-studded lineup, featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg.

Walt Disney and Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok” grossed $12.3 million last week, coming in a distant second after ruling the charts for the previous two weeks. After 17 days in theaters, the film has grossed a total of $108.4 million. It also outpaced this year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2,” which generated $103.8 million.

Most Chinese viewers gained their first exposure to DC and Marvel superheroes from comic books in the early 1980s, as most Western cultural products were prohibited in China from the ‘50s to the ‘70s.

British actor and director Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” closely followed in third place, garnering $11.1 million for a total of $30.4 million after 10 days. It became the highest grossing crime suspense import in China ever, passing the previous holder, “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride.”

In fourth place was the Chinese comedy-fantasy “The Golden Monk,” which grossed $8.7 million in its first week. The film is about a monk seeking love after realizing he is the reincarnation of a fairy cast down from Heaven.

“Seventy-Seven Days,” another Chinese-language film, held on in the top five with $3.9 million; after just 17 days, it has amassed a total of $11.1 million.

Zhang is a special correspondent