Spider-Man can beat up Batman -- at least in the China.
In a head-to-head showdown there Monday, "Amazing Spider-Man" debuted to $5.4 million, while "Dark Knight Rises" made $4.5 million in its bow.
Sony's "Amazing Spider-Man" was on 2,515 locations, many of them 3D, and benefited from the premium pricing and its running time, which is shorter than "Dark Knight Rises" and allowed more showings. The China debut pushed "Amazing Spider-Man" past the $700 million mark in worldwide grosses.
It was the best non-3D opening in China ever for Warner Bros., topping all the Harry Potter films except for the 3D finale and "Inception," which took in $1.7 million in 2010. "Dark Knight Rises" was in 2,400 sites. Imax screens brought in $516,000.
The double booking is in part an attempt by China Film Group, which oversees movie distribution in that country, to limit the impact of U.S. films on the domestic box office. Warner Bros. tried unsuccessfully to negotiate for another release date.
This is the second high-profile showdown of the summer between American films in China. In late July, Fox's "Ice Age: Continental Drift" swamped Universal’s “The Lorax” in a battle of animated family films.
The fourth "Ice Age" film grossed $15.7 million, while "The Lorax" took in only $964,000. “Ice Age” was in 3,500 theaters, compared with just 1,060 for “The Lorax.”
China is near the end of the overseas road for both "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Dark Knight Rises."
“Amazing Spider-Man” has taken in $439 million abroad since opening on July 3 and has a worldwide gross of $703 million.
That’s below the total rung up by the previous films in the franchise, but it still has to be seen as a successful reboot for a series that has taken in $3.1 billion since the original bowed in 2002.
“Dark Knight,” which will open in Italy on Wednesday, has made $524 million overseas. Coupled with its $422.3 million domestic total, its worldwide gross is $946.3 million.
"Dark Knight Rises" is on pace to become the second film this year and the 13th film ever to pass the $1 billion mark in worldwide grosses.
Disney and Marvel’s “The Avengers” joined the club earlier this summer and is No. 3 with $1.49 billion. It is behind two James Cameron movies, 1997’s “Titanic” at $2.18 billion and 2009’s “Avatar,” at $2.78 billion.
In April, “Titanic 3D” posted the biggest box-office opening ever in China, with a $58 million weekend. That topped the previous high set last year, when "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" opened to $55 million.
Fox's Ridley Scott-directed science-fiction movie "Prometheus" is set to open in China on Sept. 3.