The Greta Gerwig-directed Warner Bros. blockbuster opened to just $8 million in China, finishing the weekend in fifth place behind a bunch of local Chinese hits. In North America, the film debuted to a record-setting $155 million.
The soft start for Barbie continues a trend of Hollywood films earning much less in China than they once did. Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One badly lost its opening in China the weekend prior with a third-place start behind a pair of Chinese holdovers.
Word of mouth for Barbie has been strong, despite the tepid sales. Its social scores are 9.4 on Maoyan, 9.3 on Taopiaopiao and 8.6 on Douban. On Monday, the good buzz appeared to be giving Barbie a modest boost, with its sales ranking climbing into third place for the day.
Over the weekend, though, Barbie faced some formidable local competition. Historical fantasy epic Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms, the starting film in the long-planned Fengshen Trilogy, released Thursday and topped the charts Friday to Sunday with a $42.6 million showing. Directed by Wuershan (Painted Skin) and executive produced by Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Creation of Gods is one of the more visually ambitious Chinese films of recent memory, earning it comparisons to Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. It has earned $53.7 million, including Thursday, a less than explosive opening given the many years of industry anticipation for the franchise.
Light Chaser Animation’s Chang An added $40.6 million in its third weekend of release, taking its total to $168 million and making it one of China’s most successful original animated films of all time. Third place went to Wonder Family from the hit-making comedy group Mahua FunAge (Moon Man, Goodbye Mr. Loser). It debuted to $31.3 million in its opening three days. And Wang Baoqiang’s latest hit, Never Say Never, slipped to fourth place in its third weekend, adding $20.6 million for a strong $261 million running total.