'Crazy Rich Asians' had a crazy bad opening weekend in China

Posted December 3, 2018 1:43 a.m. EST

— Turns out China isn't so crazy about "Crazy Rich Asians."

The romantic comedy was a breakout success in the United States for Warner Bros., but it flopped at the Chinese box office, taking in less than $1.2 million in its opening weekend, according to industry tracker Ent Group.

To put that in perspective, Sony's (SNE) superhero blockbuster "Venom" pulled in $111 million in its opening weekend in China early last month.

The dismal Chinese debut for "Crazy Rich Asians" is a disappointment for the makers of the film, who had been hoping it would be a hit in the world's second largest movie market. But analysts were doubtful that the film's depiction of high-rolling members of the Chinese diaspora in Singapore would resonate with audiences in mainland China.

Beijing was slow to give the movie the go-ahead. It opened in China more than three months after the United States and Asian markets like Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The romantic comedy was so late to mainland China that Warner Bros. had already released it on DVD and streaming platforms in other countries. That meant tech savvy Chinese movie fans could potentially find ways to watch the movie online, giving them even less of an incentive to watch it on the big screen.

Based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, "Crazy Rich Asians" became a late summer hit in the United States and has since been released in dozens of countries, from Australia to Venezuela. It has made $238 million worldwide so far.

A sequel is already in the early stages of development at Warner Bros. It will likely be based on the second book in Kwan's trilogy, "China Rich Girlfriend," which is largely set in Shanghai.

The last rom-com smash in China was "Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes," a domestic franchise starring well known Chinese actors. It hauled in nearly $45 million in its opening weekend at the end of 2017.

(Warner Bros., like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.)