No Shanghai Surprise for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ In China

no shanghai surprise for star wars the force awakens in china 2015 imagesStar Wars: The Force Awakens” has broken box office records already along with breaking the $1 billion mark before fans in China have even been able to see it. Not surprising,  the film’s producers anticipate “The Force Awakens” will play “very very well” in the world’s second-biggest film market.

The film opens in China on Jan. 9.

The J.J. Abrams-directed installment of the beloved space saga scored the best second weekend of any film, with $149 million, according to studio figures released Monday. That tremendous take boosted holiday box-office totals to new heights: $295.5 million, which bests the $269.8 million record “Avatar” helped set in 2009.

“The Force Awakens” has blasted through domestic and international records since its release two weeks ago. The film has yet to open in the world’s second-biggest movie market, China, which it will do Jan. 9.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Rentrak:

1. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Disney, $149,202,860, 4,134 locations, $36,092 average, $540,058,914, 2 weeks.

2. “Daddy’s Home,” Paramount, $38,740,203, 3,271 locations, $11,844 average, $38,740,203, 1 week.

3. “Joy,” 20th Century Fox, $17,015,168, 2,896 locations, $5,875 average, $17,015,168, 1 week.

4. “Sisters,” Universal, $14,189,455, 2,962 locations, $4,790 average, $37,455,995, 2 weeks.

5. “Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip,” 20th Century Fox, $13,143,329, 3,705 locations, $3,547 average, $39,848,982, 2 weeks.

6. “The Big Short,” Paramount, $10,531,026, 1,585 locations, $6,644 average, $16,022,474, 3 weeks.

7. “Concussion,” Sony, $10,500,000, 2,841 locations, $3,696 average, $10,500,000, 1 week.

8. “Point Break,” Warner Bros., $9,805,000, 2,910 locations, $3,369 average, $9,805,000, 1 week.

9. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” Lionsgate, $5,277,828, 1,813 locations, $2,911 average, $264,540,685, 6 weeks.

10. “The Hateful Eight,” The Weinstein Company, $4,610,676, 100 locations, $46,107 average, $4,610,676, 1 week.

11. “Creed,” Warner Bros., $4,425,000, 1,518 locations, $2,915 average, $96,142,000, 5 weeks.

12. “The Good Dinosaur,” Disney, $3,783,746, 2,134 locations, $1,773 average, $105,350,933, 5 weeks.

13. “Krampus,” Universal, $2,189,595, 1,168 locations, $1,875 average, $40,458,690, 4 weeks.

14. “The Danish Girl,” Focus Features, $1,536,275, 440 locations, $3,492 average, $3,236,367, 5 weeks.

15. “Bajirao Mastani,” Eros Entertainment, $1,331,388, 304 locations, $4,380 average, $4,300,677, 2 weeks.

16. “Carol,” The Weinstein Company, $1,093,571, 180 locations, $6,075 average, $2,877,882, 6 weeks.

17. “Spotlight,” Open Road, $1,083,976, 480 locations, $2,258 average, $24,899,059, 8 weeks.

18. “Brooklyn,” Fox Searchlight, $1,070,674, 300 locations, $3,569 average, $18,407,589, 8 weeks.

19. “In The Heart Of The Sea,” Warner Bros., $1,000,000, 685 locations, $1,460 average, $22,340,000, 3 weeks.

20. “Dilwale,” UTV Communications, $915,795, 227 locations, $4,034 average, $3,962,523, 2 weeks.

Director J.J. Abrams watched the Chinese premiere in Shanghai with a Chinese audience Sunday night. He told a news conference Monday that he was thrilled to see people “laughing and cheering in exactly the same places that we’ve seen other audiences.”

“It’s a testament to the power of cinema, that it does not matter where you’re from, you can get caught up in a story,” Abrams said.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” took 12 days to earn $1 billion worldwide, becoming the fastest movie to achieve such a feat. The previous movie to reach $1 billion the fastest was “Jurassic World,” which did it in 13 days in June — and which had the benefit of record grosses in China.

“Star Wars” producer Kathleen Kennedy said the movie’s success to date was “a huge surprise.”

“We certainly hoped for enormous success, but I think the fact that we crossed the billion-dollars … it’s almost so overwhelming it’s difficult to really process just what the response has been to the movie so far, and it hasn’t even opened here yet,” she said.

“Certainly we’re hoping and anticipating that it will play very very well here.”

The Chinese market has become increasingly important for Hollywood as revenues from movie theaters stagnate at home. Some movies have incorporated Chinese characters or stories to try to appeal to the Chinese movie-going audience.

Asked whether “Star Wars” movies would do the same in the future, Kennedy said they had just finished shooting “Rogue One,” the first stand-alone “Star Wars” story. Hong Kong martial arts actor, Donnie Yen and Chinese actor and director Jiang Wen, have roles in it.

“They play wonderful characters and certainly there are many mythologies inside Chinese literature that I know we can explore in the future and find ways in which we can integrate some of those stories into the Star Wars universe,” said Kennedy.