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The Meg Bites Its Way To $4 Million Opening Night – Better Domestic Than Expected

The Meg is, as we all know, a rather more than just cheesy action movie with Jason Statham and a megalithic shark. From reviews the problem identified has been not a great movie by any means, neither good enough to be one nor so glaringly bad that it achieves reverse glory. Rather, it’s a decent enough B movie and that’s all it is. The trailer, as is common enough, has all the good bits:

There’s a certain amount different about the business behind The Meg. Sure, it’s great to make money in the US but this was part funded by Chinese interests and the aim has always been to do the bulk of the business there. The take from the first night is some $4 million for the US alone, rather better than expected:

Jason Statham’s The Meg got off to a terrific start on Thursday night, earning $4 million in advance-night previews. The “Statham v Shark: Dawn Of Awesome” actioner, technically the last “big” movie of the summer, is mostly intended to make a killing overseas, especially China where it also opened today/yesterday (time zone magic). But between you and me, $4m is a better result than I was expecting. Either it’s super-duper frontloaded, or we may be looking at a much better opening weekend than projected.

At the very least, a straight-up 10% Thursday-to-weekend figure gives Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.’s $150 million shark tale (they are distributing) a terrific $40m opening weekend. Heck, even a 15% (think a Hunger Games movie) gives it a solid $27m opening weekend. That wouldn’t be great, but again, this movie is betting on merely doing okay in North America while breaking out elsewhere.

As I say, the business structure is a little off from where we normally think of it. But then that’s how China’s eruption into middle class economic status is working out. 40 years ago Chinese revenues for Hollywood were precisely zero. Now that the place has entirely dumped Maoist idiocy it’s getting richer and who wouldn’t want to sell movie tickets to 1.3 billion people? So the movie business has gone through stages, nothing, gaining a little bit of revenue with a possibly dubbed and limited release to what is entirely normal now, a properly prepared and marketed opening. This, The Meg, is that next business stage, crafting movies for that specific market.

As is traditional with cheesy movies every reporter is pulling out the bad puns:

Jon Turtelaub directed Hollywood’s latest shark movie for Warner Bros. and China’s Gravity Pictures.
What would the summer be without a shark movie?

Warner Bros.’ shark pic The Meg, starring perennial action star Jason Statham, grossed a promising $4 million in Thursday-evening previews as it swam into North American theaters.

The big question is whether The Meg can beat prerelease tracking and earn more than $20 million in its domestic debut against a budget of $150 million (the studio says the net budget was $130 million).

The Meg is hoping for a far bigger return offshore. China’s Gravity put up a significant portion of the budget, and is handling distribution duties in China, where the movie opens Friday.

That Friday opening which, given the magic of time zones we already know about, looks pretty good:

Monster shark movie “The Meg” thrashed to a third-place finish at the Chinese box office Friday amid controversy over chart-topper “iPartment,” which was accused of artificially boosting its numbers.

“The Meg,” a U.S.-China co-production starring Jason Statham and Li Bingbing, was on course to score more than $15 million on its opening day Friday, according to data from China Box Office at 9 p.m. local time. That gives the big-budget horror-action pic a 22% market share.

The controversy is that the number 1 movie there, iPartment, may or may not have bought $15 million of its own tickets in order to register as a hit. That performance from The Meg will be seen as disappointing:

While the Friday numbers are provisional and “The Meg” could pick up over the weekend, the $15 million opening day is unlikely to be what its backers – Warner Bros., Flagship Entertainment and Gravity Pictures – hoped for. The film, which reportedly cost $150 million to make, is laced with China-friendly elements, such as the casting of Li and Statham and the inclusion of Chinese plot points, that producers no doubt hoped would appeal to audiences in China, the world’s second-biggest movie market.

It has to be said that the reviews for The Meg haven’t been all that good. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 52%. Or a 3.5 out of 5. And their nut of a review is:

Critics Consensus: The Meg sets audiences up for a good old-fashioned B-movie creature feature, but lacks the genre thrills — or the cheesy bite — to make it worth diving in.

Variety is also less than entirely full of praise:

Film Review: ‘The Meg’
Jason Statham leads a B-movie giant-shark thriller that wants to be ‘Jaws’ on steroids. The trouble is, it’s neither good enough — nor bad enough.

An expensive B movie they call it – which is rather not the point of the genre at all.

Or as Ars Technica put it, “We’re going to need a stupider boat.

We’ll have to see who things turn out over the weekend.

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5 years ago

$15 million opening. And did you know? Cuba has excellent health-care outcomes.

5 years ago

The chinese authorities only allow a limited number of hollywood films to be shown in chinese cinemas. It used to be 20 per year but i believe that’s been increased. Over the last few years hollywood has been including token chinese actors or token scenes set in china (often with no noticeable relation to the plot) to enable their films to be on the list of films that can be shown . It is also very noticeable that Japanese movies on DVD used to have english subtitles, but now they have almost all changed to chinese subtitles rather english, unless… Read more »

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