Box office of Hollywood sequels drops
Published: Jun 12, 2023 10:33 PM
A performer wearing a <em>Spider-Man</em> suit crawls on the wall at a press conference for <em>Spider-Man</em>: Far From Home in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

A performer wearing a Spider-Man suit crawls on the wall at a press conference for Spider-Man: Far From Home in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The sequels to many Hollywood blockbusters have landed in Chinese mainland recently. However, most of them have proven less popular at the box office than their previous installments.

As of Monday, Sony's Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse's total box office reached 247 million yuan ($34.5 million), according to the data from Chinese ticket platform Maoyan, with a stellar rating of 8.7/10 on review platform Douban.

For the moviegoers, this achievement cannot be counted as a "flop" since the movie, which debuted on June 2, has received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.

However, despite the high ratings from moviegoers, based on the box office of the film, it is highly unlikely it will outperform its predecessor Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Xie Ting, a Beijing-based industry insider told the Global Times that since the previous film grossed 427 million yuan in the Chinese mainland, he is "not very optimistic about whether the current film can surpass the previous one."

A Spider-Man fan named Liu Lu told the Global Times that as the Marvel universe grows more complex with the constant introduction of new plots, the threshold for moviegoers becomes a new high bar.

This isn't just a Marvel problem.

The latest installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, has also received mixed reactions from Chinese audiences since its release on June 9. The film, which features a new faction of Transformers called the Maximals, who join the Autobots as allies in the battle for Earth, has earned 291 million yuan at the box office in four days. 

However, the film has also been criticized for its poor plot. It currently has a 6.3/10 on Douban, the second lowest for the series.

Some fans have expressed their disappointment with the Hollywood blockbuster, which follows a similar formula as the previous films. 

One netizen on China's Sina Weibo wrote: "My friends and I felt like we've had enough of them after this film. I am literally no longer interested in seeing more Transformers films." 

"It's like an assembly line product created by an AI bot," wrote another on Sina Weibo.

The film's performance has also raised questions about whether Hollywood is losing its appeal for Chinese audiences, as other series such as Fast X (Fast & Furious 10) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, both recently released in the Chinese mainland, have also seen declining profits compared to previous installments.

It seems franchise fatigue isn't just being felt by audiences in the Chinese mainland.

According to film news outlet Boxoffice Pro, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts came in "considerably below" the openings for the first four installments of the franchise that debuted in 2007.

It listed more figures showing that the new Transformers opened with $110 million outside North America, lower than the fifth installment, which opened with $199.2 million. The Chinese mainland box office is 67 percent less than the fifth film's $123.4 million the mainland opening.