2019's Avengers: Endgame seemed to set every imaginable box office record when it released in theaters. This included the previously insurmountable record for lifetime gross at the box office, perviously held by 2009's Avatar. Endgame racked in $2,797,800,564 worldwide, narrowly taking down Avatar's $2,790,439,092.
$858,373,000 of those earnings came domestically, and China brought in the second highest with $629,100,000 during its entire 2019 theatrical run. Combined, these two markets accounted for over 53% of Endgame's record-setting release.
Despite a lot of theaters being closed around the world due to the ongoing pandemic, a new box office record has just been set.
AVENGERS ENDGAME BEAT AT THE BOX OFFICE
Detective Chinatown 3 has earned $397 million at the opening weekend box office in China, Deadline reports.
This incredible performance beats the record for the highest opening weekend ever in a single market, previously held by North America's $357 million weekend for Avengers: Endgame. The opening weekend also set the record for the largest IMAX opening ever in China, bringing in $23.5 million.
A NEW HOPE FOR BLACK WIDOW?
Theaters in China reopened in July 2020, which is a major reason why they became the No. 1 box office worldwide in 2020, overtaking North America. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise as theaters in the United States were closed for most of 2020.
After being shut down in March, Christopher Nolan's Tenet in August attempted to jump start a resurgence, but only brought in $363,129,000 at the worldwide box office. More concerning, Nolan's latest film only made $57,929,000 domestically, which was likely a large reason for Disney's Black Widow getting delayed again from November of last year to May 7, 2021.
Speculation has continued to grow the closer Marvel Studios' first Phase 4 film approaches. At the Disney Investor Call this past week, Disney shared they will remain "flexible" with the release date but indicated they are still focused on a theatrical release, rather than putting the film on Disney+ as well. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is reportedly one of the main reasons for Disney's stubborn approach to releasing Black Widow exclusively in theaters.
Disney said they "will be watching the reopening of theaters," but many may have implied this just meant North American cinemas as they start to reopen in the coming months. Disney is an international business, born in America, but now stretches all over the globe. The domestic box office is likely not the only situation they are monitoring. If a film in China can make nearly $400 million in three days, why couldn't the first Marvel film in a long while reach similar heights?
China did become the top worldwide box office in 2020 and is off to a huge lead against North America's practically nonexistent box office so far in 2021. Godzilla vs. Kong will likely be the first domestic box office test when it releases on March 31, 2021. Even though that film will simultaneously be released on HBO Max, the domestic box office earnings should indicate to a lot of studios how many North American viewers are comfortable visiting the theater.
This latest box office record set by Detective Chinatown 3 may make Disney and other studios question whether or not the domestic box office is as important as previously thought. Maybe China's thriving box office will be enough to keep Black Widow on its May 7 release date.