China! The final frontier. Forget Hollywood, there's real cheddar to be earned in China, as Transformers: Age Of Extinction is finding out. The picture opened in America and China simultaneously, and it's done strong business domestically. But the story is different in China, where audiences have been ravenous for the latest adventures of Optimus Prime.
The Hollywood Reporter informs us that Transformers: Age Of Extinction has not only gotten off to a smashing start in China, but it's become China's highest grossing film of all-time. Of all-time, people. The movie's been out for two weeks, and already its totaled $222.74 million, surpassing the $221 million grossed by Avatar in the region. The film has collected $575 million worldwide, and will threaten to approach the $1.12 billion grossed by Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and China is a big reason why.
This is the answer as to why Age Of Extinction has a rather extended third-act trip to China. The flick features standout parts for Li Bingbing, and Han Geng, major actors in the territory, as well as several marketing and merchandising tie-ins within the film to Chinese products and businesses. The latter connection is what drove some Chinese viewers to be critical of Iron Man 3, which attempted the same trick. The difference here is that Age Of Extinction actually goes to China, and the sequences set over there showcase the country and factor into the plot. Or "plot," because this is a Transformers movie.
Since trade embargoes have loosened between China and America, it has resulted in a flood of Hollywood products reaching their shores, when earlier it was only a select few movies that would arrive, following heavy government censure. The bulk of these films are generic 3D action pictures, so it's not exactly like Under The Skin is flooding theaters.
But the massive expansion of Chinese theaters across the country has led to the arrival of a massive new marketplace for Hollywood to exploit. Estimates have China becoming the world's biggest film market by 2021, surpassing America. Sadly, this may be entirely on the back of blockbusters like Transformers: Age Of Extinction. Thanks for supporting independent film, jerks!
Age Of Extinction bringing in $221 million in China is even more impressive when you consider the American take has only been $175 million. Indeed, American audiences are falling out of love with effects-heavy blockbusters just as the rest of the world is discovering them, and Age Of Extinction is tracking to become the lowest-grossing film in the series domestically. A similar breakdown is available for X-Men: Days Of Future Past , the year's biggest film. That picture grossed $227 million in America thus far, not quite able to reach the $234 million grossed by X-Men: The Last Stand eight years ago despite inflation and 3D prices. But because the entirety of its future scenes took place in China and featured popular actress Fan Bingbing, the picture's second biggest region was China, with $116 million worth of tickets sold. With the increasing expansion, expect numbers like those to rise.