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Bond film thrills China's box office

By Amy He in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-11-19 12:26

November is shaping up to be a good month for Hollywood blockbusters in China, with the record-breaking release of the latest James Bond installment and the upcoming release of the last Hunger Games movie.

Spectre, the 24th film in the James Bond franchise, opened on Nov 13, earning $15 million, making it the largest Friday opener and breaking another record by earning $48 million in its three-day weekend total. The previous Bond film Skyfall earned $59 million in its entire theatrical run in China in 2012.

Daniel Craig had appeared alongside his co-stars for a Beijing premiere and also promoted the film by appearing at a Singles Day celebration with Alibaba's Jack Ma on Nov 11.

The television appearance had an estimated audience of 500 million, which experts said contributed to the film's success at the box office.

"You had Daniel Craig appearing during the Singles Day press push, so obviously having the star there to promote the film" helped its box office performance, said Daniel Loria, senior overseas analyst at

"And something like James Bond, what a global brand. That's an IP (intellectual property) that has maybe 50 years behind it, people know it, it's an international IP. Something like that, I'm not surprised to see it do so well," he said.

The jump from a $59 million theatrical run of Skyfall to a $48 million opening for Spectre goes beyond just larger promotion pushes, he said, and is more a result of the growth of the movie market in China.

"I think you have to look at the growth of the market and the pace of growth in China," he said, referring to the number of movie screens in the country. "It's something that's growing so fast that even making a financial prediction based on a previous film is that difficult, because you have that many more screens, that many more people going to the movies. When we see a film like this exceed expectations, that's really a reflection of exhibition and film-going in China."

Jonathan Papish, a writer for the China Film Insider, said that with the marketing power of MGM Pictures and Columbia Pictures, its distributors, and Daniel Craig showing up for Alibaba's event, the movie is "performing about where people expected it to".

"I think the numbers you're looking at is just basically market expansion in the film industry itself," he said.

Rounding out November is the last installment of the Hunger Games franchise, which will be released in China on the same day it opens in North America, a coveted situation that will reduce the opportunity for piracy when films are released in China weeks or months after a North American premiere.

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