‘Gravity’ Breaks Imax Record on Way to $35M Debut in China

The Sandra Bullock-George Clooney 3D space epic takes in $7.4M from 123 Imax screens for Warner Bros.

The 3D space epic “Gravity” has posted the biggest Imax opening ever in China on its way to a sensational $35.5 million first weekend in the People’s Republic, Warner Bros. reported Sunday.

“Gravity brought in $7.4 million from 123 Imax screens – it was in 5,854 theaters total– or one-fifth of its grosses there. The previous best Imax total was the $6.3 million posted by “Iron Man 3” in May.

China now ranks as the third largest market for “Gravity,” behind the U.S. ($245 million) and France ($42.8 million).

Also read: ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Blazes to $307M Globally but Can’t Match ‘Iron Man 3’ at U.S. Box Office

Its big China opening is particularly impressive, since it opened just two days before “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” 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.

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.

The Alfonso Cuaron-directed thriller may have gotten a boost in the People’s Republic from a key plot point involving a Chinese space shuttle.

Also read: Did ‘Gravity’ Really End as It Seemed? An Alternate Theory (Spoilers)

For the weekend, “Gravity” brought in $46.6 million internationally to raise its foreign total to $331.5 million. That raises the overall worldwide gross for the thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney to $577 million, with Japan yet to come.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” may have been beaten out in China, but that’s about the only foreign market in which it didn’t open at No. 1. It brought in $146 million from 64 markets which, coupled with its $161 million domestic opening, gives it a $307 million first weekend worldwide.

“Thor: The Dark World,” the worldwide leader for the past three weeks, was dethroned but still took in $24.8 million from 72 territories. That puts its international haul at $381 million and its worldwide gross at roughly $550 million.