'The Amazing Spider-Man' has beaten 'The Dark Knight Rises' on its release in China.
Spidey took $5.4 million (£3.4 million) in receipts, compared to Batman's less substantial $4.5 million (£2.8 million).
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The figures are surprising because Christopher Nolan's final Bat-film performed far better than the web-slinging reboot in the rest of the world (£598 million compared to £442 million).
So why did China prefer Spidey?
Firstly ‘Spider-Man’ was shorter and in 3-D, so there were more screenings per day, and those tickets were more expensive. However, ‘Batman’ made much of its cash from just-as-expensive IMAX screenings.
Instead it’s the Chinese government’s complicated scheduling and censorship policy that could explain the relative success of ‘Spider-Man’.
According to industry blogger Rob Cain, the authorities did not release Nolan’s previous two 'Batman' films in China, so audiences wouldn’t have been familiar with the series or the characters.
They also forced studios to release both films on the same day in an attempt to limit the impact that American films have on the country's domestic releases. They were competing for the same audience.
Both box office totals were less than expected (especially considering the pair’s giant worldwide hauls). Cain believes that’s because superhero films just aren’t as popular with Chinese film fans.
“China doesn’t have that deep tradition and huge die-hard fanbase of American comics. That’s why they didn’t make record money.”
It also helps explain why some Hollywood films that disappointed everywhere else surprisingly flourished in China. These include soulless sci-fi ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ (£7.7million in the opening weekend), Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie flop ‘The Tourist’ (£6.5million) and disappointing Seth Rogen comedy ‘The Green Hornet’ (£7.1million).