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How China’s Love of ‘Now You See Me 2’ Pushed Lionsgate to Big Box Office Overseas

World’s second-largest movie market is an increasingly important contributor to the mini-major studio

Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me 2” made just $65 million at the domestic box office, but its $97 million gross in China powered the film to a respectable $335 million worldwide. And while that split is unusual, China has become an increasingly important source of theatrical revenue for the mini-major studio, as CEO Jon Feltheimer explained on a Wednesday conference call after Lionsgate reported third-quarter earnings.

“China now accounts for over 20 percent of our total international box office,” Feltheimer said on the call.

China’s box office flatlined last year after several years of double-digit growth, as a relatively soft local slate combined with reduced online ticket subsidies depressed demand. But Lionsgate, which signed a co-financing deal with China’s Hunan TV in 2015, had several of its movies perform well across the Pacific. Mel Gibson’s World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge” nearly matched its $66 million domestic take with $62 million in China, while “Gods of Egypt,” which was a $31 million flop at home, reeled in $36 million in China.

“Our opportunities in China are greater than ever,” Feltheimer said.

Feltheimer also expressed plenty of confidence that “La La Land,” which scored a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations and opens in China on Feb. 14, would have no trouble winning over hearts, minds and wallets in the Middle Kingdom.

“It has worked in every single territory in which its opened,” Feltheimer said. “We’re very optimistic about its performance in China, where it’s opening on the very appropriate Valentine’s Day.”