‘Gravity’ Beating ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ on First Day of China Box-Office Battle, Warner Bros. Says

The studio projects its 3D space epic will take in $13.2 million in its first three days in world’s 2nd-largest market,

Early numbers show “Gravity” is beating the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” in the first day of their head-to-head battle in China, Warner Bros. reported Thursday.

The studio said its 3D space epic was holding the No. 1 spot Thursday, the first day that “Catching Fire” joined it in the market. “Gravity” debuted at No. 1 in China on Tuesday. Lionsgate hasn’t yet reported its opening day numbers for the Jennifer Lawrence sequel,which opens Friday in the U.S. and 65 foreign markets.

Chinese officials, who routinely seek to protect homegrown movies at the box office, scheduled the two blockbusters’ openings just two days apart. That will cost both movies millions in box office revenues, analysts say.

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The Sandra Bullock-George Clooney thriller brought in $9.3 million on Tuesday and Wednesday, its first two days of release in the world’s second-largest market, where it is playing in 5,854 theaters. After a $7.2 million Wednesday, Warner Bros. is projecting a $13.2 million three-day total for “Gravity.”

“Gravity” is getting a major boost for Imax, which accounted for $2 million from 123 screens, roughly 22 percent of its total so far.

This isn’t the first time that China has pit two U.S blockbusters against each. Last year, the county opened “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” simultaneously, which cut into both of their box office takes.

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“The Amazing Spider-Man” ended its box office run in the People’s Republic with a $48.8 million haul, while “The Dark Knight Rises” netted $52.8 million from the market, according to Box Office Mojo. Those are impressive figures, but they pale next to the $111.9 million that “Pacific Rim” achieved this summer or the $121.2 million “Iron Man 3″ racked up in its Chinese release.

China is capping an impressive international run for “Gravity,” which is about to cross the $300 million mark overseas and is at $535 million in worldwide grosses.