As the headline states, Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. has officially announced that Ready Player One is passing the $300 million mark at the global box office after just over a week of theatrical release. The WB/Village Roadshow/Amblin flick has been chugging along well enough in North America, with a decent $71m eight-day total and the expectation that it will top $90m by Sunday on its way to a $125-$150m domestic cume. But it has performed even better overseas, including a huge $143m from China alone.
It’s already the biggest WB release ever in China and has earned more than any superhero flick save for Avengers: Age of Ultron ($320 million) and Captain America: Civil War ($183m in the marketplace. Written by Zac Penn and Ernest Cline, and based on Cline’s pop culture nostalgia-bait 2011 novel, the $175m-ish release is already, arguably by default, one of Steven Spielberg’s biggest overseas grossers ever. To be fair, we aren’t accounting for inflation or that the overseas market was very different in the days of E.T. or even The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
The VR adventure has earned around $229 million outside of North America to go along with its $71m domestic total. By the end of the weekend, it could be flirting with a global total above the $374m cume of The Adventures of Tintin, a European-targeted animated adventure that earned $77.6m in North America in 2011. At that point, Ready Player One (which has earned 56% of its gross from 3D theaters) will be Spielberg’s ninth-biggest global grosser ever, again not adjusted for inflation, exchange rates or overseas expansion.
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‘Ready Player One’
At this juncture, it’s hard to see how it doesn’t at least flirt with $500 million worldwide becoming the sixth Spielberg movie to reach said arbitrary milestone. It will then sit behind only War of the Worlds ($592m in 2005), The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($619m in 1997), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($786m in 2008), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial ($792m, including reissues) and Jurassic Park ($1.029 billion, including reissues). It opens in Germany this weekend with a due date in Japan set for April 20.
When it tops the $369 million cume of Fifty Shades of Grey, it’ll become the second-biggest Hollywood release of 2018. That probably says more about the non-Black Panther output than it does about Ready Player One. It will have to earn $433m worldwide to earn even a third of Black Panther’s $1.3 billion global finish, and half ($650m) is almost certainly out of the question.
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Once again, we should note that the Hollywood movie crushing it in China is a distinctly American pop culture-driven adventure fantasy. Moreover, and I may go into this next week, but there is a case that certain directors may be taking the place of so-called movie stars as “butts-in-the-seats” box office draws. If Will Smith can’t necessarily open a movie any more than perhaps Steven Spielberg still can.