Universal Pictures’ Fast X cruised to another easy win at China’s theatrical box office over the weekend, earning $17.6 million for a cumulative total of $109.9 million.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid, though, is clearly sinking rather than swimming in the China market. The Rob Marshall-directed film, starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, opened to just $2.5 million — on the far low end for Disney’s live-action remakes in China.
The Little Mermaid was outearned by a pair of holdovers and a new anime release. Local road comedy Godspeed, already a month in cinemas, added $6.8 million to a total that now sits at $145.4 million. Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 took $4.9 million for a $79.6 million cume. Japanese anime feature Sword Art Online The Movie opened to $3.8 million, with local ticketing app Maoyan forecasting it to top out in China with around $5 million.
A little over a week ago, Fast X gave Hollywood its best China opening of 2023 — $51.1 million. The film slid 66 percent in its second frame, and Maoyan now forecasts it to finish out at just under $125 million. That’s a boffo showing for the new post-pandemic normal, but much less than recent installments in the Fast and Furious franchise have brought home from China. F9: The Fast Saga earned $216.9 million in 2021, which was down considerably from The Fate of the Furious‘ $392.8 million in 2017 and Furious 7‘s $390.9 million in 2015.
The Little Mermaid‘s China earnings are meek by any measure. Maoyan predicts the film will take only $4 million. Most of Disney’s live-action remakes have done far better. Cruella came in on the low end with $24 million in 2021, while others like The Lion King ($120 million, 2019) and The Jungle Book ($150 million, 2016) have done vastly better. Domestically, Mermaid is performing powerfully — studio estimates currently see a four-day Memorial Day debut of $118 million, the holiday’s fifth-biggest opening of all time.
U.S. studio product will continue flowing into China over the coming weeks. Sony’s Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse launches Friday, followed by Paramount’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts a week later. Japanese anime will also continue to be a staple at the Chinese multiplex, with both Doraemon the Movie: Nobita’s Sky Utopia and Studio Ghibli’s 1986 animated classic Laputa: Castle in the Sky releasing on Thursday.