CHINA: 'After Earth' Looks to Change its Fortunes with $13.8M Opening Weekend

on July 16, 2013

AE-4.jpgA crash-landing at the North American box office might have been unexpected for After Earth, but there always the hope that the film could change its luck overseas. Will Smith and son/co-star Jaden took off on a lengthy worldwide promotional tour for the film as Sony waited anxiously for the global numbers to come in. After Earth hit 5,218 screens in China six weeks after it opened in its first overseas market, South Korea. The sci-fi flick closed its run in South Korea with $3.4 million, well below the $10.1 million earned by Oblivion in the same territory. If the $197 million overseas cume from Tom Cruise sci-fi vehicle is used as a reference point, then After Earth would need a big push from its Chinese release to help mitigate the damage suffered at the North American box office.

A $13.89 million opening weekend was enough for After Earth to claim the top spot in China's weekly box office chart, according to figures from EntGroup. The film's total represents three days of release in the territory and accounts for 2,587,773 admissions. The China premiere allowed the film to break the $150 million overseas mark, giving it a $157.5 million overseas total and a $216.8 million global cume. If it can hold well in the coming weeks, After Earth might be able to reach a healthy $35 million total in the market.

Sci-fi has proved popular in China all summer. The market represents nearly a quarter of the $222.5 million overseas total from Star Trek Into Darkness ($57M) and became the only overseas territory where Oblivion broke the $20 million mark, bringing in $23.7 million of the Tom Cruise vehicle's $197 million overseas gross.

China also has the reputation of "saving" several recent Hollywood box office disasters. Rob Cain, an authority on the Chinese film industry, previewed the film's opening in the territory with a think-piece considering After Earth's box office potential in China. Cain points out China's role in helping recent North American fiascos like John Carter and Battleship cross the $200 and $300 million global marks, respectively. John Carter grossed $73.1 million in North America and was rescued by a $42.1 million China run that took its global total to $201 million. Battleship fared better overseas, posting a mere $65.4 million in North America and a $50.1 million total from China that raised its global tally to $303 million.

Johnnie To's Blind Detective finished its first full week of release in second place with a $12.62 million total to bring its Chinese cume up to $26.55 million. Already a smash hit, Tiny Times recently announced an August 9 release for a sequel. That's less than two months after the premiere of the current box office hit, which has grossed $75.73 million in 18 days. Man of Steel is closing out its run in China, ending the week with a $4.17 million take. The Superman reboot has grossed a total of $62.51 million in China. Man of Tai Chi, the Chinese co-produced directorial debut of Keanu Reeves, fell flat in its premiere last weekend. This week's numbers were equally as poor; Man of Tai Chi earned $1.18 million in its first full week in theaters to take its Chinese total to $4.28 million.

Weekly Box Office Results for China.

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Data Courtesy of EntGroup.

Follow Daniel Loria and BoxOffice on Twitter for more on the global box office.

Tags: After Earth

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