The other day I wrote about Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s latest domestic/worldwide box office numbers, observing that just over 10 days into a domestic release and something like 3 weeks into an international release we’re looking at a movie which is already at around $900 million worldwide without the benefit of the second biggest market in the world, China. Sure, everything it has done domestically has been in second position to the first Avengers, but clearly talks of it being some kind of financial disappoint are overblown. A reader of the site responded to joke how funny it would be if Age of Ultron actually ends up with a higher worldwide gross than the first Avengers despite all of the hand-wringing over its failure to top the first Avengers‘ domestic numbers. We agreed, reasoning that China is the real final piece of Age of Ultron‘s plot for world box office domination.
Well, Age of Ultron just opened in China yesterday, and it’s off to a record-setting start, scoring $33.9 million, the biggest opening day of all time for a non-weekend release, despite some inherently hilarious translation snafus (e.g., Cap’s defiant line “You get hurt, hurt ’em back. You get killed…walk it off” translated to “Run fast if someone tries to kill you”). According to THR, “It’s Disney and Marvel’s biggest opening day ever in China, and exceeded the first two days of The Avengers in May 2012. All told, Age of Ultron commanded nearly 96 percent of the marketplace.” That sounds great, but Furious 7 actually made around $62 million on its opening day. Then again, Furious 7 actually opened on a Sunday, and now Age of Ultron has opened on a Tuesday, which the Los Angeles Times describes as “an atypical opening day where tickets are often discounted.” If you go even further back, Fast & Furious 6 opened on a Saturday. It’s China. They open movies whenever they want to, often based on local holidays and unique work schedules.
Why would we even care to compare Age of Ultron to Furious 7? It’s because China gets so much attention for the new local records it has set in the past two years, Transformers: Age of Extinction ($320m) becoming the country’s biggest film of all time only to be quickly surpassed by Furious 7 ($388m). Age of Extinction is largely set in China and did a lot to court Chinese audiences (with plenty of headaches along the way), and Furious 7 arrived as “the general growth of car culture in China in recent years, with a booming middle and upper class now having the means to purchase and accessorize automobiles, has created strong interest in car-themed films.” By comparison, comic book movies have been big in China, but not Transformers/Furious 7 big – $86m for the first Avengers, $121m to Iron Man 3, $115m to Winter Soldier and $96m to Guardians of the Galaxy. Stepping outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, X-Men: Days of Future Past hauled in $116m while ASM 2 scored $94m. In each case, that made China the film’s biggest individual market behind the US/Canada.
After this opening day, Age of Ultron projects to easily surpass the $161 million mark by the end of its in run in the Middle Kingdom, which is obviously great, just not Transformers/Furious 7 great. But the movie’s only been out there for one day, and you never really know with China. For example, Furious 7 and Transformers were supposed to be big over there, but not so big that they actually made more in China than they did in the US/Canada. Then that’s exactly what ended up happening. Even if Age of Ultron doesn’t quite wow the way Tranformers/Furious 7 did it is still projected to become China’s highest-grossing comic book movie of all time.
As of May 13, 2015, Age of Ultron has amassed $318m domestic/$607m international/$926m worldwide, already ranking it just outside the top 30 films of all time worldwide, sure to quickly climb up that chart each day for the following week as the box office returns from China come in.