There’s a scene in Tom Selleck’s Mr. Baseball where the aging slugger at the heart of the movie defends his waning performance by pointing out, “I had the team’s highest batting average on balls hit to right field in the month of August.” The team’s manager and bench coach share a nervous look and say nothing in response, so caught off guard by such a random, probably meaningless statistic that they don’t know how to respond.
That’s what it feels like sometimes when you discuss box office records for movies. For many of the new records that are set, the fair response is to ask, “So, is that good” to which the answer is often a somewhat unsure, “It’s not bad.” The job of the people who write about such things is to provide context to help us better understand how “good” or “not bad” a film’s performance might be. The problem is that so many of the new box office records being set are being set in China where the context is constantly changing. Sony is no doubt ecstatic that the new James Bond movie, Spectre, just broke several records in China, and will only need 5-6 days in the country to completely eclipse what Skyfall made there during its entire theatrical run in 2012.
Yeah, but it’s not really a fair comparison. There were only 3,680 total theaters in China in 2012 compared to 5,813 in 2014, translating to an annual growth rate of around 25% more theaters per year. I don’t know how many theaters they have here in 2015, but it’s obviously way more than what they had when Skyfall came out. So, of course Transformers became he country’s highest-grossing film of all time last year only to be replaced by Furious 7 and then Monster Hunt this year.
This isn’t Field of Dreams, though. Just because you build more theaters doesn’t mean people will definitely come. In fact, a lot of Hollywood movies have been struggling in China lately, taking a backseat to the country’s own homegrown movies, although that didn’t stop Ant-Man from having Marvel/Disney’s second best all-time opening in the country last month. Ultimately, Spectre setting records which will surely be destroyed by the next 007 movie when it comes out a couple of years from now at least means that the country has finally warmed to James Bond, likely responding to the affluence and cool cars on display in Spectre much in the same the way the country previously embraced Need for Speed and the Fast & Furious
Here are Spectre‘s records:
- Biggest Friday opening ($15 million)
- Biggest opening weekend for a 2D Hollywood movie ($48 million)
- Biggest three-day take for a 2D Hollywood movie ($48 million)
- Biggest three-day IMAX opening in November ($4.6 million)
It’s only $11 million shy of eclipsing Skyfall’s $59 million total from 2012, and this Bondtastic debut has pushed its worldwide gross to $542 million, which sadly is only a little over halfway to Sony’s break even point.