After six months of cinema closure, there may have been an understandable nervousness about China’s theatrical re-opening last week. Would even a core audience return after such a long time? But return they did, with the #1 international market immediately hitting the Stage 2 target of its Blueprint To Recovery on Saturday (July 25).

Chinese cinemas were allowed to re-open from Monday July 20. The first few days saw less than 20% of theaters by market share re-open, with only an offering of pre-shutdown titles. However, help was on the way in the form of Universal’s DOLITTLE and Sony’s BLOODSHOT – the first two new release titles into the market on Friday (July 24).

To achieve its Stage 2 target (a daily box office equivalent to the previous lowest day of box office from the previous two years – what Gower Street considers a “base day”) China needed to generated a single day box office of ¥30.2 million. According to our partners at Comscore Movies, this was achieved first on Saturday (¥34.7m) and then again on Sunday (¥37.1m). DOLITTLE alone generated nearly half (47-49%) the required box office on both weekend days. BLOODSHOT contributed another 25% of the target on both days.

Gower Street’s Growth Trackers (as featured in our latest Road To Recovery reports) also show that 54% of cinemas by market share were re-open in China on Saturday.

In total the market saw a three-day weekend of ¥92.8 million ($13.3m), with DOLITTLE and BLOODSHOT accounting for a combined 62% market share.

China was the first market to close cinemas due to the COVID-19 outbreak, just ahead of the lucrative Chinese New Year (Jan. 25) holiday. A small-scale re-opening was attempted in late March, just as other global markets had shut down, but was swiftly abandoned. Gower Street estimates that the market has lost $4.5 billion in box office compared to an average of the past three years, and closer to $4.8 billion year-on-year, to date.

The earlier closure of the market compared to the rest of the world does, however, mean there is a pipeline of major un-released titles waiting in the wings. The next two weeks will see SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (July 31) and awards-season titles 1917 and FORD V. FERRARI (both Aug. 7) open, while the year’s biggest global hit so far, BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, is scheduled for August 14.

DOLITTLE was previously responsible for fueling Japan’s achievement of its Stage 3 target – the first global market to do so. South Korea has also achieved Stage 3, thanks to local blockbuster TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS PENINSULA.

It is still possible to sign up for a free trial of Gower Street’s Road To Recovery reports through to the end of August. These reports include Growth Trackers for 30 global markets, as well as all 50 US states and 12 Canadian provinces. Access the free trial here.