An "Avengers: Endgame" image combining all superheroes from the Avengers series. [Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios]
Even the wildest estimates for the juggernaut superhero blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame" proved too conservative as it broke various Chinese single day box office records on Wednesday.
The emotional and visual feast finale earned 189 million yuan (US$28.07 million) from Tuesday midnight preview showings and a Wednesday early morning preview that started at 3:00 a.m., that beat the previous record holder, "The Fate of the Furious," which grossed 62.71 million yuan (US$9.35 million) in 2017.
It was more than three times higher than its predecessor "Avengers: Infinity War," which took in 59.5 million yuan (US$8.83 million) last year at its midnight debut, according to ticketing and box office statistics tracking app Maoyan. This meant more than 3.26 million people had stayed awake to pack cinema seats in deepest night.
Among the various earnings figures, about 31 million yuan (US$4.6 million) came from midnight screenings from more than 600 IMAX theaters across the country, which was also three times more than the IMAX midnight screening of "Avengers: Infinity War," and setting the all-time IMAX midnight record. The film also set a new opening day record (including the midnight shows) for IMAX China with an estimated 93 million yuan (US$13.82 million), surpassing the previous record of "Avengers: Infinity War" by 82%. IMAX represented the top 10 locations and 88 of the 100 top-performing countrywide locations, according to IMAX China.
Most of the more expensive tickets were for IMAX screenings, said to give cinemagoers the best viewing experience with 26% more picture in the frame compared to standard theaters. IMAX China publicity had highlighted that it was the second Hollywood feature film to be entirely shot with the most advanced Alexa IMAX camera.
A total of 39,500 showings were arranged by Chinese theaters at midnight and in the wee small hours on its debut day, and the average ticket price was 57.7 yuan (US$8.57), much higher than average price of 39 yuan (US$5.79) for "Infinity War."
The increase was due to the unusual three-hour duration and the greed of certain cinemas which treated the film as a golden opportunity to make a big profit by charging sky-high prices – from 300 yuan (US$44.77) to even more than 1,000 yuan (US$149) per ticket. The China Film Administration had already issued instructions days earlier to deal with the controversy, regulating and curbing ticket prices.
Excluding the midnight showings, the opening day box office numbers for "Endgame" totaled more than 544 million yuan (US$80.81 million), which was the highest ever amount for an imported foreign film in China, and the second-highest opening day record just behind "Monster Hunt 2," which earned 547 million yuan (US$81.26 million) on the lunar New Year day, one of the most profitable day of the year, in 2018.
The Chinese film authorities normally don't calculate the midnight preview earnings with opening day gross together, otherwise the total combined opening day earning of "Endgame" should be 733 million yuan (US$108.89 million), another all-time high.
The Marvel Studios superhero epic set other minor records, such as the fastest to gross more than 500 million yuan (US$74.27 million) within 12 hours after its debut, and contributing 99% of box office revenue for one day for all films screened in China.. On the opening day, "Endgame" occupied 82.7% of all screening theaters, breaking a seven-year-old record held by "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" since 2011.
The film also smashed China's presale records, including the highest rate ever with 774 million yuan (US$115 million) made from all showing dates from Wednesday to Sunday. By comparison, the previous record holder "Infinity War" pre-sold tickets worth more than 440 million yuan (US$65 million) on its opening weekend.
China was among the first in the world to present the epic on Wednesday, a normal working day and two days ahead of its opening in North America and most other major markets. Chinese fans' staggering enthusiasm for the film have prompted some analysts to predict "Endgame" will gross more than US$900 million at box offices worldwide during this weekend.
The previous 21 Marvel superhero films earned US$18 billion worldwide. In China, these superhero films are also big earners, and "Infinity War" now stands as the current highest-grossing superhero film, with a box office income of 2.39 billion yuan (US$356.5 million).
The latest Marvel film got a high score at 9.0/10 on Douban.com, China's movie review aggregator site, while the critic approval rating was 97% on American review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, which could further help ticket sales.
For the Chinese market, "Endgame" will also have no real rivals during the upcoming four-day May Day national holiday from May 1, so further records are likely to be set.