Chinese moviegoers abiding love for the Transformers franchise was on full display over the weekend as Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opened to $40 million, the second-biggest start for a Hollywood film in the country this year. 

The new Paramount film, the seventh in the Transformers series, has earned solid social scores — 9.1 on Douban, 9.1 on Maoyan and 6.3 from Douban — setting it up for a respectable career run. Current projections in China see the film finishing with around $85 million. 

Sony’s Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse was pushed to second place and added $8.9 million in its second frame, according to data from Artisan Gateway. The film’s China total sits at $34.1, with Maoyan forecasting a finishing total of just over $45 million. 

Universal’s Fast X, which holds the crown for Hollywood’s biggest opening in China in 2023 ($51.1 million), added $3.4 million. After four weeks in cinemas, the movie has brought in $131.8 million. 

Both Rise of the Beasts and Fast X have performed strongly for the current, diminished release environment for U.S. movies in China, but their earnings are slim compared to what earlier installments in their franchises generated. Fate of the Furious earned $392 million in China in 2017, and Transformers spin-off Bumblebee brought in $171 million in 2019. Analysts in China say filmgoers have become far more discerning in recent years, and that U.S. tentpoles need to bring something truly sensational to get the local audience out to cinemas en masse — rather than just a “good enough” franchise sequel. 

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Chinese road comedy Godspeed, in theaters for 45 days, scored fourth in China for the weekend with $3.1 million, taking its total to $157.6 million. And a re-release of Studio Ghibli’s anime classic Castle in the Sky rounded out the top five with a $2.5 million weekend haul. The film has earned $15.5 million in China to date — over 35 years after its original international release. 

Warner Bros.’ The Flash and Disney/Pixar’s Elemental open in China on Friday.  

At the U.S. domestic box office, Rise of the Beasts opened to a promising $60.5 million. It also did sizeable business in other international markets, earning $110 million offshore for an early global roar of $170.5 million

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