Warner Bros.’ The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson in his first turn as the Caped Crusader, has gotten off to a predictably slow start in China.

As of 3.30 p.m. local time on Friday, the film had earned $2.1 million, including some presales for Saturday and Sunday. Beijing-based ticketing app Maoyan is predicting an ending cumulative total of $33 million for The Batman, although the company’s projections often undergo revisions throughout opening weekend.

Local word of mouth for the brooding superhero pic is looking respectable, so far, but widespread cinema closures in response to COVID flareups across China have taken a big bite out of the film’s earnings potential. The film’s nearly three-hour runtime isn’t helping either.

On reviews site Douban, where China’s more discerning film fans tend to congregate, The Batman has a rating of 7.7. User scores from major ticketing apps Maoyan and Tao Piao Piao should be made available in the coming hours.

Even if The Batman‘s earnings undergo an uptick, the film won’t come close to reaching the China totals generated by past inhabitants of the bat suit. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises earned $52.8 million way back in 2012, when China’s total potential theatrical market was far smaller than it is today. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice then earned $95.8 million in 2016, which was bettered by Justice League in 2017 with $106 million.

China is currently battling its largest COVID flareup since the start of the pandemic and approximately 30 percent of all Chinese movie theaters have been temporarily closed over the past week, according to exhibition industry consultancy Artisan Gateway.  The regions hardest hit include cosmopolitan population centers like Shanghai and Shenzhen, where filmgoers tend to favor imported Hollywood fare.

Prior to The Batman‘s China release, a source close to the film told The Hollywood Reporter that internal tracking suggested an opening of just $15 million to $20 million, down from earlier projections in the $25 million to $30 million range. All of those forecasts pale in comparison to the film’s powerful domestic opening of $134 million, however.

The U.S. studios are learning to live with much smaller grosses than they once enjoyed during China’s box office boom period of several years ago, when Hollywood revenue totals for action tentpoles would often rival, if not exceed, North American ticket sales. Only two Hollywood films earned over $100 million in China over the past two years — Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla Versus Kong and Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga — a period during which over 20 local Chinese titles exceeded the $100 million mark.

Other upcoming Hollywood titles headed to China in the weeks ahead include Roland Emmerich’s disaster action film Moonfall (March 25), Sony’s animation sequel Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (April 3) and Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (April 8).





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