Now this is the way I like to start off the day. Goodness knows there’s a constant barrage of depressing Hollywood news involving remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, rehashings, and general recycled material. Today we get to trumpet the unlikely success of a movie based on an honest-to-gosh, not-adapted-from-any-damn-thing, original science fiction script. While Guillermo del Toro’s mechs vs. monsters epic Pacific Rim underperformed in American theaters, it’s been doing well overseas, and a solid Chinese opening just made it a lot more likely that we’ll get that sequel we’re craving after all.
Deadline reports that Pacific Rim opened to a record-breaking $9 million in Chinese theaters yesterday. That take included some “5,700 digital 3D screens, 117 digital 3D IMAX screens, and 22 China Giant Screen sites.” I have no idea what constitutes a “China Giant Screen site,” but it sounds like a good place to watch a movie about giant mechs smacking the crap out of giant monsters. To provide a bit of perspective to those of us not intimately familiar with Chinese box office — most of us, I presume — Pacific Rim’s opening on Wednesday was a full 23% higher than any of Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter films. In fact, it was a higher opening-day earner than any other Warner Bros. film exported to China. To quote an old Vulcan proverb, “Better-than-Harry Potter box office is good box office.” So far Pacific Rim has taken in $229 million worldwide.
We’d reported earlier this week that the Chinese box office could save the chances for more Pacific Rim, and assuming the rest of its opening weekend goes as well as Wednesday, del Toro’s early optimism regarding sequel possibilities may be born out after all. (Lesson of the day: don’t bet against Guillermo del Toro.) And as we’ve said before, even if you’re not a fan of Pacific Rim, its success is a good thing, because it demonstrates to the Hollywood checkbooks that you can have a box office success for a movie that’s actually an original property. Even when they don’t knock it out of the park, I’d still much rather see studios gambling on original movies like Oblivion, Europa Report, Elysium, and Gravity than yet another slate of remakes and sequels.
For those who have already seen Pacific Rim, the ending obviously raises the question of where they could go in the sequel. Del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham have already been thinking that over, and the director gave some broad, semi-spoiler-y hints last week:
’I’ll tell you a couple of things. We will have Gipsy 2.0 for sure. Second thing is you’re gonna see a merging of Kaiju and Jaeger. And that is quite special.’ He continued, ‘Just think about it for a second. We sent Gipsy to the other side, right? It exploded, but whatever remains stays there. We’ve drifted with a Kaiju brain. Well, then start riffing on that and you’ll get to something.’
Either way, we’re on board. A big GFR thanks to overseas audiences for saving the day and proving to have better taste than the average American moviegoer. Bring on Pacific Rim 2!