Warner Bros. has been enjoying summer fun at the box office, with BARBIE dominating the charts and becoming the studio’s highest-grossing movie of all time and their DC superhero film BLUE BEETLE opening in the top spot this weekend.
In addition to this domestic success, Warner Bros. is also seeing surging demand in China for their shark sequel MEG 2: THE TRENCH, where it brought in $53.6M in its opening weekend, which was 77% higher than its domestic opening and even than the debut of the original THE MEG in 2018.
It was a rare bright spot for Hollywood in China, which has struggled to regain its swagger since the pandemic. Major studio titles such as BARBIE, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONE, and THE LITTLE MERMAID have all fallen flat in China, while MEG 2 has earned more than all those movies combined.
An apparent reason for MEG 2’s success in China is its fusion of Hollywood with local talent and settings. It was a joint production between Warner Bros. and Chinese Media Capital, features one of China’s biggest stars Wu Jing, and has many scenes set in and around China.
Not only do these elements make the film relatable to a Chinese audience, but they also motivate the Chinese government and exhibitors to get behind its promotion, giving it top billing at local movie theatres. The government has a significant role in programming at Chinese multiplexes and can influence demand. As a result, many in Hollywood have come to see the Chinese market as tantalizing but unreliable, whereas it was once seen as a prime opportunity for growth.