2017’s Biggest Box Office Hit You Haven’t Heard Of

2017 is a strange year for followers of the movie industry. Big-budget franchise films like The Mummy and Baywatch have bombed massively while smaller budgeted movies like Get Out and Girls Trip have performed admirably at the box office, seemingly indicating the start of a downward turn for universes and reboots. There is also evidence of a growing divide between what audiences in the US and Canada want to see and what those around the world want to see, with Despicable Me 3 and The Fate of the Furious each drawing astronomical numbers internationally despite performing below expectations in their home markets. The merging box office powerhouse market in China has also played a significant role regarding profits, with the country seeming to turn away from the Transformers franchise they so notably boosted financially in its 4th iteration in 2014, with a third of its audience disengaging for its 5th iteration after previously adding a whopping $320million to its overall box office takings of $1.1billion, leaving The Last Knight clutching to a $594million run, just over half of what Age of Extinction made. It is in China that this year’s surprise international box office hit has originated; the year’s biggest box office hit you haven’t heard of…

Zhang lang II (Wolf Warrior 2)

wolf warrior 2 zhang ling ii
Wu Jing in ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ (2017)

The sequel to Zhang lang/Wolf Warrior (2015) has blown all but two movies out of the water in the international market in 2017 so far and it only made its Chinese debut 3 weeks ago (28th July). The action/war movie starring and directed by native star Jing Wu has seemed to satisfy the market’s desire for high concept, high budget action films filled with combat and explosions (something the success of Fast and Furious and Transformers can attest to via previous releases). The movie, which co-stars American actor Frank Grillo as villain Big Daddy, has become the third highest grossing movie of all time for any single market (which is China in this case) and looks set to run through to mid-September. Here are the facts…

Box Office Gross: $682.5million
Weekends Since Release: 3

Top 10 Worldwide Box Office Releases of the Year (so far…)

1. Beauty and the Beast – $1.26billion
2. The Fate of the Furious – $1.23billion
3. Despicable Me 3 – $920million
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 – $862million
5. Wonder Woman – $797million
6. Pirates 5 – $786million
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming – $702million
8. Wolf Warrior 2 – $682.5million
9. Logan – $616million
10. Transformers 5 – $594million

Factoring Out US/Canadian Ticket Sales for the Year (so far…)

1. The Fate of the Furious – $1billion
2. Beauty and the Beast – $757million
3. Wolf Warrior 2 – $682.5million
4. Despicable Me 3 – $672million
5. Pirates 5 – $614million
6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 – $473million
7. Transformers 5 – $464million
8. Kong: Skull Island – $398million
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming – $396million
10. Wonder Woman – $395million

The prosperity that Wolf Warrior 2 has found in China must be considered a warning to US distributors and market followers as to China’s immediate impact on the film industry. This action film, which has been released in the west with very little anticipation, has broken past powerhouses like Disney, Marvel, Universal and Warner Bros. to establish itself, and its country, as a key player in 2017’s figures, confirming that China is no longer simply a box office region worth exploiting by big US distributors, but is also a key player in its own right.

With Hollywood reportedly looking for joint Chinese ventures in recent years in an attempt to break the region’s 1 billion plus potential market for Box Office releases, Wolf Warrior 2’s immediate impact will surely speed up this process as the bigger companies look to find a way into the country which continues to limit the amount of ‘foreign/imported’ films that are released on their screens each year. Wolf Warrior 2 certainly places a lot more power in the hands of Chinese financiers, producers and distributors than they would have had previously, and this summer may be looked back upon as being a defining moment in industry history; a moment where China established itself as having the potential to dethrone the US from their ever-present position as Kings and Queens of the silver-screen.


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