'The Batman' could have surpassed 'Wonder Woman' in China without COVID-19: Experts
Published: Mar 20, 2022 07:32 PM
the US the Batman Photo:Courtesy of Maoyan

The US the Batman Photo:Courtesy of Maoyan

The arrival of Warner Bros' The Batman in the Chinese mainland on Friday can only be described as "untimely." With its solid word-of-mouth and great reviews, The Batman was poised for greatness and surely would have surpassed the box office of 2017 DC blockbuster Wonder Woman if it had not been for the current COVID-19 flare-up. But now, the film will probably be unable to gross more than 200 million yuan ($31 million) in the Chinese mainland, according to Chinese film observers on Sunday.

Changing from a handsome vampire to the cool image of Batman, hit star and the film's lead actor Robert Pattinson still cannot save the film in China. As the only superhero film released in the Chinese mainland over the past year, The Batman did not encounter any competitors in March, but still had to face a tragic fate - widespread closures of national cinemas due to a new COVID-19 spike across China.

By Saturday, the number of operating movie theaters in the Chinese mainland dropped to 53.4 percent, according to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan. 

"The reputation and artistic quality of The Batman are better than that of the Wonder Woman franchise. If there was no epidemic, then it [The Batman's box office] could have surpassed that of the Wonder Woman franchise," Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

He forecast that The Batman now will only gross 150-200 million yuan.

On Chinese media review website Douban, The Batman has a high score of 7.7/10, while Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 only had a 7.1 and 6.1 respectively. 

Maoyan shows that Wonder Woman grossed 610 million yuan in the Chinese mainland and Wonder Woman 1984, released in the mainland in 2020, grossed 167 million yuan.

Shi noted that the new film continues the Hollywood trend toward "political correctness." 

For example, main characters such as Catwoman, James Gordon and a mayoral candidate for Gotham City are all played by black actors, and Catwoman is portrayed as an independent female character.

Some netizens based in Shanghai and other big cities expressed disappointment with Chinese social media that they could not watch the film due to the cinema shutdowns.  

According to a Sunday press release from Maoyan, most cinemas in major cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin, areas with the most affluent populations and most open to foreign movies, are closed.

The Batman earned 76 million over its opening weekend to become the box office champion in the mainland. It is also the best opening for an imported film in the mainland film market since 007: No Time to Die was released at the end of October in 2021.

The runner-up was also an imported movie. Sony's Uncharted has earned 58 million at the mainland box office over the first seven days of its release. Experts predict the total box office of the film will reach no more than 100 million yuan.

Indian box-office hit Kanaa, which shares the same sports theme and the father-daughter love as the phenomenal hit film Dangal, showed a poor performance by only grossing 993,000 yuan as of Sunday afternoon.