‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ Box Office Win Fueled by Global Strategy

Giant robot sequel ends "Black Panther" five-week run atop of the box office.

March 25, 2018 12:49 pm

The long reign of King T’Challa has come to an end.

Universal’s Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to the 2013 sci-fi flick about giant robots battling giant monsters, took the top spot at the box office, the first time a film other than Black Panther finished No. 1 in the last six weeks.

While the $28 million earned by Pacific Rim: Uprising may hardly seem Godzilla-sized considering the high production costs for the genre, the Steven S. DeKnight-directed film actually is already a hit. (Even though the forgettable Power Rangers opened with $40 million for in second place a year ago this weekend.)

But the film added $122.5 million internationally, including an estimated $65 million in China alone, this weekend, proving that the big-budget film doesn’t need to bust blocks in this side of the Pacific to be a blockbuster success.

It’s a familiar model for the franchise: The first Pacific Rim earned less than a quarter of its $411 million global box office in North American movie theaters.

“You can now build a franchise built off just performance in theaters outside North America,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior box office analyst for ComScore.

“The blueprint for this movie was absolutely with the international market in mind, and with the Chinese market in particular. That was clearly the plan. It’s baked into this film’s circuit-board DNA.”

Fighting alien invaders alongside John Boyega and Scott Eastwood is an international cast including popular Chinese actress Tian Jing (Great Wall of China). The production studio behind the film, Legendary, is owned by a Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, already giving it a kaiju-sized footprint in Asia.

The monstrous Kaiju attack in “Pacific Rim Uprising.” The globe-spanning conflict between otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the human-piloted super-machines built to vanquish them was only a prelude to the all-out assault on humanity.
Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures

Of course, the biggest of all monsters at the box office translate in all markets.

Black Panther may have finished second, but the $16.66 million it earned propelled its totals to $630.9 million in North America alone. That is good enough to pass The Avengers as the highest-grossing superhero movie in history and make it the fifth highest grossing movie of all-time.

The film earned $12.9 million overseas to pad  $1,237.3 million, the 12 highest total in history. That translates to a lot of Renminbi. That also translates into a lot of people who were moved by what they saw on screen.

“The legacy of Black Panther is not only the box office, but what the movie represented — a watershed moment in the advancement in diversity in big-budget epic blockbusters,” said Dergarabedian.


The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.