The North American box office is silent; “Mulan” sparkles in China

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Film audiences in North America aren’t rushing to the theaters just yet, and “Mulan” is also hesitant to release in China as the global box office slowly returns online in the COVID-19 era.

In the second big weekend for US and Canadian theaters, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” earned just $ 6.7 million from 2,910 locations, the studio estimated on Sunday. The Warner Bros. sci-fi thriller was seen as the main litmus test of whether audiences were ready to embrace the theatrical experience again, after nearly six months of theaters closed due to the pandemic.

While this was enough to get past the scattered national releases, it is also not enough to revive the struggling exhibition industry. Warner Bros. has already pushed back even further its next major release, “Wonder Woman 1984”.

The only major new release for the weekend was Sony’s PG-13 romantic comedy “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” which grossed approximately $ 1.1 million at 2,204 locations across North America. The film, from director Natalie Krinsky and executive production Selena Gomez, tells the story of a gallery owner in her twenties played by Geraldine Viswanathan who creates an art exhibition with memorabilia of his past relationships.

The studio is optimistic about its performance and potential.

“The first numbers are really encouraging,” said Adrian Smith, president of Sony Pictures’ president of national distribution.

Smith noted that the film will have a slow rollout as more theaters continue to open in the United States.

About two thirds of the domestic market is open and cinemas operate at limited capacity and with limited hours. Two of the country’s largest markets, New York and Los Angeles, remain closed. Other markets still closed include North Carolina, Michigan, New Mexico, and the cities of Seattle and Portland.

Other notable national weekend numbers include Disney’s “The New Mutants,” which added $ 2.1 million from 2,704 locations in its third weekend, and Russell Crowe’s photo from Solstice “Unhinged. Which brought in an additional $ 1.5 million in week four.

“Each week is a bit of a litmus test of how potential moviegoers feel about going to the theater,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “I think the audience is slowly backing down.”

But, he noted, “you can’t enforce the standards on how we analyze or report the box office. “

Comscore has not even been able to report a traditional “Top 10” due to the unusual market that Dergarabedian has equated to a “relaunch” or “restart” of cinema.

The landscape is more encouraging internationally, where “Tenet” this weekend added more than $ 30 million, bringing its global total to $ 207 million.

But new films alone are not enough. In China, Walt Disney Co.’s “Mulan” made a disappointing debut of just $ 23.2 million. The low launch nevertheless earned the film the top spot in the country where around 91% of theaters are open but limited to 50% of their capacity. The studio noted that its openness is about the same level as “Cinderella” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. “

Globally, “Mulan” has earned $ 37.6 million to date, although that number is not representative of total income. The live-action epic, which was also the subject of controversy at its location, is not playing in North American theaters. Instead, it’s available for a $ 29.99 rental on the company’s Disney + service. Streaming revenues were not made available.

But pre-COVID success and failure metrics are difficult to apply, especially to the first movies out of doors. And, according to Dergarabedian, it could be so for a while.

“We are not in a traditional market and we are not in a traditional mode of analysis,” Dergarabedian said. “It will take time to properly assess the long-term impact of the pandemic.”

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