The last of the three "Matrix" films grossed 15.4 million yuan (1.86 million US dollars) on the Chinese mainland in its opening weekend, a rise of 28.3 percent over the second "Matrix" film's performance in the same time, a senior film promoter said here Thursday.
Weng Li, vice manager of the film exhibition and distribution arm of China Film Group, one of the two distributors of the movie in Chinese mainland, said, "The globally simultaneous debut contributed to the movie's box office revenue and, more importantly, helped theaters fight against piracy."
For big-name American films, a pirated DVD is likely to emerge in the local market seven or eight days after they debut in the United States, he added.
Usually foreign movies are shown in China several months, or even a year, after their are shown in the West, so people would rather buy a pirated DVD than wait until it hits the movie theater.
"The Matrix Reloaded" came out in the Chinese mainland two months after its North American release on May 15.
This time, the Warner Bros. movie was released simultaneously in 109 countries on Nov. 5, including the Chinese mainland.
"Of course I prefer watching movies like 'The Matrix' in the movie theater. But I am not patient enough to wait for several months while friends and colleagues around me are talking about a hot film," said Song Ping, a 25-year-old Beijing female who has a plan to see "The Matrix Revolutions" in the movie theater this weekend.
China imports 20 foreign movies every year. The China Film Group and Huaxia Film Distribution Co., Ltd. are the only two to distribute imported movies.
"We select foreign movies that meet the needs and tastes of thelocal market," Weng said. "We will spare no efforts to cooperate with foreign counterparts to have these films put on in China simultaneously with the global market if they would like to."
The Chinese film authorities are loosening their standards for foreign movie control and shortening the procedure, he added.
More than 200 copies of "The Matrix Revolutions" in Chinese were distributed to cinemas in the Chinese mainland, along with 100 ones in English, the most ever.
The Matrix sequel is likely to bring in a total of 80 million yuan (9.67 million US dollars) in China, said Gao Jun, spokesman of Beijing Xinyinglian Film Co., Ltd. which has 18 cinemas that put on the film.
Box office revenue amounts to 900 million yuan annually in the Chinese mainland, equal to 108.83 million US dollars.
In Beijing, a ticket for "The Matrix Revolutions" is sold at 50yuan (6.05 US dollars).
"Whether a film will debut in China at the same time as in the global market mostly depends on whether foreign distributors are well prepared," said Weng. "This time the cooperation with Warner Bros. moved on smoothly."
The movie racked up a worldwide box office revenue of 204.1 million US dollars in the first five days, beating the previous global high of 200 million US dollars for "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."