"Avengers: Endgame," the last chapter of Marvel Studios' decade-long franchise, was a game-ender in last week's Chinese box office charts, hauling in a total of 2.22 billion yuan (330 million U.S. dollars), with a market share exceeding 95 percent.
It outshines all the other films currently on screen, and has made many new runners hesitant to join the arena before the May Day holiday, which used to be a fiercely contested period.
The Avengers have returned with incomparably strong momentum, and have broken at least 23 records in China's film industry, according to Maoyan.com, China's largest online ticket selling service website, including the highest presale box office record with 744 million yuan (110.5 million U.S. dollars) before release.
The movie has sent two Avengers, "Iron Man" Robert Downey Jr. and "Black Widow" Scarlett Johansson into China's "10-billion-yuan box office club," making them the first and only foreign actor and actress to join the elite group. And 9.7 billion yuan (1.44 billion U.S. dollars) of Downey's 10 billion came from the Marvel Studios series.
Besides the numbers, "Avengers: Endgame" is also a phenomenon. The midnight box office reached 188 million yuan (27.9 million U.S. dollars) as more than 3 million people stayed up to watch the premiere.
And film-related topics dominated social media during the following day.
The earliest viewers posted their tickets with carefully worded messages expressing their excitement, while those who had not seen the hit movie avoided Sina Weibo and WeChat Moments as much as possible to dodge any spoilers.
The film was given a fairly high score of 8.8 on Douban.com, China's answer to Rotten Tomatoes. Many Chinese fans have attached the superheroes' endgame to their childhood memories.
"If you don't like the film, then it wasn't meant for you. The last chapter of the film is for those who have followed the story," read one of the most popular comments on social media last Wednesday, as the first batch of Chinese moviegoers exited cinemas. It was echoed by Marvel's large fan base.
Lines of the film, self-edited videos, posters and designed pictures of the superheroes were posted on social media sites, including Sina Weibo, WeChat and Douban, among others. Many wrote long articles to express their reluctance to say goodbye to the franchise, as well as their good old memories.
The popularity of the film is also reflected through the row piece volume, which averaged 81.5 percent.
The Marvel superheroes have also helped infuse vitality into the Chinese film market. As of Sunday, April's monthly box office reached 4.27 billion yuan (630 million U.S. dollars), rising by 363 million yuan (53.9 million U.S. dollars) year on year.
And it is not only in China. "Avengers: Endgame" opened to 350 million U.S. dollars in North America last Friday, two days after its Chinese debut, while it has also swept another 859 million dollars globally, including 330 million in China.
Marvel Cinematic Universe-based films have earned 16.8 billion yuan (2.5 billion U.S. dollars) in China, and the number is still rising. It is expected that during the May Day holiday, the Marvel superheroes will continue their all-round triumph.
Among the rest of the 5 percent market share, Hong Kong crime film "P storm" took 1.5 percent with a general box office 770 million yuan (114.4 million U.S. dollars), taking the second spot in last week's box office charts.
Indian film "The Blind Melody," Japanese film "The Crimes That Bind" and Chinese mainland film "Push and Shove" followed, totaling a 1.3-percent market share.
In the following week, art house films will take the lead to debut during the May Day holiday. "Capernaum," an Oscar-nominated Lebanese film, and "Jinpa," directed by Chinese-Tibetan director Pema Tseden, have already hit the big screen. Art house film enthusiasts can look forward to spending some time in the cinema.
Domestic crime film "Savages, " featuring Chinese stars Chang Chen, Ni Ni, Liao Fan and Huang Jue, will be released on the last day of April, adding another option for Chinese moviegoers during the four-day holiday.
"See You Up There," "Animal Rescue Squad," "Always Miss You" and documentary film "Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge" will be released over the next few days.
However, the May Day holiday box office battle looks quite predictable. As "Avengers: Endgame" dominates, the rest will be looking for a small slice of the pie.