Imax recorded its highest-grossing Chinese New Year weekend at the box office, earning an estimated $25 million from China over the weekend despite the country’s seating restrictions to 75 percent capacity.
The record was set almost entirely due to new comedy adventure Detective Chinatown 3, which was originally set to open in China in January 2020 but was delayed following the outbreak of Covid-19. The title earned an estimated $23.5 million opening weekend from IMAX alone, as part of its overall estimated $394.1 million opening weekend according to EntGroup. That would put IMAX’s share at approximately 5.9 percent, very close to the 6.3 percent IMAX earned for last year’s biggest Chinese opening weekend, The Eight Hundred.
In addition, IMAX earned its biggest single day gross ever on Friday. According to EntGroup, Detective Chinatown 3 earned an estimated $156.3 million in the country on that opening day, the country’s new largest opening day of all time.
Coinciding with the Chinese New Year holiday, this frame’s grosses break IMAX’s previous IMAX China record, which also occurred on Chinese New Year in 2019. (Cinemas were shut down during the holiday in 2020.)
“Given our recent success at the Chinese box office we suspected our fans would turn out for Chinese New Year in a big way, but these early returns have blown away even our most optimistic projections,” IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond said in a press release. “With record-breaking box office, strong market share, and multiple releases Filmed In IMAX, this is an important milestone on our road to recovery at the global box office and our long, successful history in China.”
China has been a vital market for Imax as cinemas around the world gradually re-open following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company has earned $126 since cinemas first re-opened in China last July, already seeing box office increases of 28 percent in December and 140 percent in January, despite ongoing seating capacity limits and a lack of Hollywood titles hitting the market.