“Pacific Rim” trashed Hong Kong but won over China with a record opening day

Fights Kaiju, and poor US box office sales.
Fights Kaiju, and poor US box office sales.
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Monsters, robots, and a Hong Kong setting paid off after all for “Pacific Rim,” as the film opened to a record $9 million in sales in mainland China on Wednesday for its distributor Warner Bros., according to a breathless report from Nikki Finke—despite complaints that (mild spoiler warning) the film’s Chinese characters and their robot “Crimson Typhoon” got killed off too early.

Warner Bros recently split with “Pacific Rim” producer and Legendary Entertainment founder Thomas Tull, ending a rocky relationship, but remains the distributor of “Pacific Rim.” Expect a lot of other movie makers to follow Tull with an Asia pivot. Earlier this year, Legendary signed a three-year deal with state-owned China Film to co-produce films, a deal that will allow Legendary to bypass caps on the number of foreign films distributed in China. It may also help the studio, whose founder once ran a string of laundromats, get paid: China’s government owes Hollywood studios $143 million in unpaid box office revenues.

Analysts expect summer box office revenue in China to top $650 million, China Daily reported, more than half of which will be earned by foreign films. Fast & Furious 6 has been another big foreign summer hit, with 100 million yuan (about $16.3 million) in ticket sales in its opening two days.

Best of all for “Pacific Rim” fans, the movie’s strong showing in China after disappointing sales in the United States means that a sequel is now a strong possibility—so it looks like the Chinese may be the movie’s heroes after all.