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The Eight Hundred Opens to $107 Million in China

IMAX today announced that Huayi Brothers’ The Eight Hundred soared in its IMAX debut, earning $6.7 million at the box office across nearly 650 IMAX theatres in China. IMAX theatres delivered the strong result even with a 50% capacity limitation in China, and captured 6.3% of the film’s overall box office, despite accounting for only 1% of screens.

Chinese audiences flocked to the war epic, with IMAX theatres recording more than 550 sell-out shows in the first two days of exclusive preview screenings alone. The Eight Hundred has earned an estimated $107 million in overall box office to date.

The Eight Hundred is the first commercial film in Asia shot entirely using IMAX cameras, and the first new blockbuster release to hit Chinese multiplexes since they began reopening in late July. The strong performance of The Eight Hundred lifted IMAX to global box office of $7.5 million for the weekend — more than double last weekend’s total and the company’s best weekend box office performance since Chinese theatres closed in January.

In China, IMAX has now earned $15 million at the box office — overall market share of 6% — and generated 1.85 million admissions since its theaters began to resume operations on July 24.

“After being closed for six months, the performance of IMAX theatres at the Chinese box office continues to exceed our expectations and reinforces our belief that audiences are eager to return to theatres where local guidelines allow,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX.

“The Eight Hundred breaks new ground as the first commercial film in Asia shot entirely with IMAX cameras and its strong debut marks a significant step in the rebound of the theatrical business in the critically important Chinese market.”

The Eight Hundred is based on the true story of the battle and protection of the Si Hang Warehouse during Sino-Japanese war in Shanghai, China, in 1937. In the event, about 400 soldiers (the so-called Eight Hundred Heroes in history) held out against numerous waves of Japanese forces for four days and nights.

The Eight Hundred kicks off a strong fall slate for IMAX in China, including the Chinese release of Warner Bros. Pictures and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on September 4. Tenet begins opening in international markets on August 26.

In the United States, theaters slowly began opening on Friday (though not in the biggest markets, Los Angeles and New York) and Solstice Studios’ Unhinged marked the first wide release again in about 1,823 theaters. The movie grossed an estimated $4 million and has earned more than $8 million overseas.

“It feels like we are back in the movie business. It’s a huge relief to see theaters open again and to see people buying tickets again,” Solstice SEO Mark Gill said. The movie will expand to more than 2,300 theaters next weekend.

Unhinged is a psychological thriller starring Academy Award winner Russell Crowe and comes from Carl Ellsworth, the writer of Red Eye and Disturbia, and Lisa Ellzey, the producer of Warrior and Kingdom of Heaven.

The film is directed by Derrick Borte (American Dreamer) and also stars Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson and Austin P. McKenzie.

This coming week finds the hugely-anticipated opening of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet across much of the international marketplace, including Canada. Tenet was shot almost entirely with IMAX film cameras. Also from Warner Bros., Nolan’s Inception re-releases in China on August 28.

As far as other wide releases, the long-gestating The New Mutants releases in the U.S. starting Thursday night, while Bill & Ted Face the Music will be available On Demand and in select theaters on August 28.

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