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After defying its box office naysayers but failing to become an outright hit, Pacific Rim is making its way to China, where its reputation as a flop or a success could be cemented. According to The Wrap, the massive Chinese moviegoing market could tip the scales in favor or success and a potential sequel. If the Guillermo del Toro-directed epic can make just $50 million in China, BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino believes Warner Bros. will open the door for del Toro to do a Pacific Rim 2.
In the film’s favor—according to Contrino—is its inclusion of Chinese heroes in the Jaeger Crimson Typhoon as well as the nation’s love of big robot movies. Notably, Transformers: Dark of the Moon brought in a mind-blowing $145 million there just two years ago, which contributed substantially to the film’s $771 million foreign gross. Contrino speculates Pacific Rim could ride that robot genre interest into at least a third of the box office Tranformers 3 raked in. But he notes there’s two issues standing in the pic’s way. One is that the three and a half week lag between Pacific Rim’s US and China release could mean movie piracy will have already have substantially eaten away at the film’s prospective audience. And two is Fast and Furious 6, which just opened there with a hardy $24 million. Will Vin Diesel and his car-lovin’ crew beat back Idris Elba’s Jaeger-driving team? It’s a cinema showdown too close to call right now. (But that right there is a movie I’d like to see!)
Having cost a whopping $190 million to make, it was fitting that a recurring tag line for the massive monster vs. battle bot adventure Pacific Rim was “Go big or go extinct.” But without an A-list star or an established franchise audience to build from, the original actioner suffered from terrible tracking numbers going into its opening weekend. Still del Toro, wasn’t worried. And soon came a surge in midnight ticket sales, promising a winning weekend. But that promise didn’t pay out and Pacific Rim earned $38 million in its opening weekend, which put it at the #3 spot behind Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2.
To date, the film has earned an unremarkable $84 million in the US, but with $140 million overseas there is a good chance China could save Pacific Rim from flopping. If the country’s cinema fans fall in with the rest of the Asian market, the movie should do well. Pacific Rim has already made $17 million in Korea and almost $9 million in Taiwan. With openings coming in Japan and Brazil, the feature might be on track for $300 million in foreign grosses. And that figure could well inspire Warner Bros. to suit up for more Kaiju versus Jaeger battles, though we’d bet with a tighter budget.
And just because I find this shocking: Grown Ups 2--which somehow cost $80 million to make—has already taken in $101 million domestically. America, this is why we can’t have nice things.