Legend of Tarzan Posts a solid $3.2M Tuesday, China looms as the critical foreign release

Legend of Tarzan (Movie), Legend of Tarzan Box Office

Legend of Tarzan logged $3.2M in the US on Tuesday, bringing its domestic total to $87,554,528.  At this rate it will cross $100M on Saturday en route to an eventual total of at least $120M and possibly as high as $140M.

That leaves foreign.

Regarding foreign, there is good news, and there is not so good news.  In the good news category — it hasn’t been released in China yet, and China dwarfs all other foreign territories in importance and potential.   A great release in China can make up for a lot of softness in other territories.  How much is possible in China?  Well, Independence Day Resurgence is currently at $72M in China and still playing.  Previously Warcraft, which bombed in the US, opened at $65M in China en route to a final figure of $221M.   No one is expecting Tarzan to do $200M plus in China … but could it reach $100M?

Anyway, that’s the good news.

Now for the not so fantastic news.

The foreign release thus far has been “okay” but not fantastic, and in one particularly important territory, Russia, it’s been painfully soft.   In that territory, Legend of Tarzan opened at $3.2M and currently stands at $6.4M en route to a probable final number in the $8-9M range.  It’s performing more or less in synch with Independence Day Resurgence ($6.5M to date) and is a little bit behind Finding Dory ($8.8M to date), so there’s nothing disgraceful in the performance.  But if you compare to, for example, John Carter which opened at $16M en route to $33M in 2012, you see the problem.

In search of some comparables — if you compare Legend of Tarzan’s foreign release opening weekends thus far to Independence Day Resurgence’s foreign release opening weekends — on a same territory comparison — it looks like this:

$22,286,987 — Legend of Tarzan
$35,573,479 — Independence Day Resurgence

Not so good. LOT will have better legs than IDR, but not enough to make up for that big a disparity in opening weekends. IDR currently sits at $196M foreign total, with 80% of its foreign total in. So figure it to end around $240M foreign. Can Tarzan match that? And would that be enough to push LOT over the top into profitability?

Well . . . let’s be generous and give LOT $140M domestically. Then let’s give it $240M foreign, equal to IDR. That only gets us to $380M and is a bit short of where LOT needs to get to be regarded as sequel-worthy.

Is there a chance that somewhere out there in foreign there is a big difference maker that could pull Tarzan up over the top?

That would be China.

IDR opened at $37M in China and currently sits at $72M, en route to a probable $80M. China can deliver a lot more than that these days. How much more? Well, take a look at these China box office numbers:

$235M Zootopia
$220M Warcraft
$190M Captain America-Civil WAr
$154M Kung Fu Panda 3
$150M Jungle Book

So yes, LOT could catch and surpass IDR with some magic in China. But it’s a heavy lift and there are no signs yet that LOT is positioned for a breakout success in China. It could happen.

The other thing to keep in mind is that US Studios do not get as much from each box office dollar in China as they do elsewhere. The max they get to keep is 25%, so a box office dollar in China is not worth quite as much as it is elsewhere. But still . . . doing well in China can make up for a lot of softness elsewhere.

The China release date is July 19. That’s a Tuesday release, which is a little unusual and means that the studio is frontloading it with a strong promotion. From this, and from the comments of Jeff Goldstein, WB’s EVP Distribution, we know that WB is banking heavily on China.

So — stay tuned. It’s all about China.

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