Disney’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ smashes China opening day record

Above, inside the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” at the Los Angeles Convention Center on April 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images for Disney/AFP)
Updated 25 April 2019
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Disney’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ smashes China opening day record

  • Sets opening-day record with estimated $107.2 million in ticket sales
  • Premiere tickets selling for hefty premium on gray market

LOS ANGELES/BEIJING: Marvel superhero movie “Avengers: Endgame” set an opening-day record in China with an estimated $107.2 million in ticket sales, distributor Walt Disney Co. said.
The movie, the final chapter of a story told across 22 Marvel films featuring popular characters such as Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow, smashed many records to become China’s highest grossing foreign movie on first day when it was released on Wednesday, two days before its US screening.
The movie, also the fastest to hit the 500 million-yuan mark in ticket sales, dominated cinemas across China on Wednesday, totaling more than 80 percent of all screenings.
Some premiere tickets were so coveted that they were being sold on the gray market for more than 500 yuan ($74.14), versus an average of 60 yuan across cinemas nationwide.
“Ticket sales in China are estimated to reach 3 billion yuan,” said Wu Jian, an analyst with Alibaba Pictures
“The success can be attributable to the nearly 20 Marvel movies over the past 11 years. From that, the Marvel franchise has built up and retained a lot of Chinese fans.”
Brokerage Great Wall Securities said in a research note that the final ticketing sales of “Avengers: Endgame” could be as high as 4.8 billion yuan, which would make it the second best-performing movie in China after Wolf Warrior 2.
It would also be double of what its last sequel, “Avengers: Infinity War,” made in the country — 2.4 billion yuan in 2018.
In addition, the movie could be a boost to China’s motion pictures market amid Chinese consumers’ waning interest in going to cinemas this year, analysts said.
Total first-quarter box office takings in China is currently down 8 percent on year, despite strong performance from Chinese-made sci-fi movie “The Wandering Earth” and help from the recent Chinese New Year holiday.
Movie box office revenue in China rose 9 percent last year to 61 billion yuan, slower versus the previous year, as the government cracked down on tax evasion in the industry and tightened rules on content.
The early screening has also created a lot of buzz on Chinese social media, which some fans cautioning others against posting spoilers.
“But with people paying more than 200 yuan to watch the movie at midnight, what do you expect them to do if they don’t post spoilers to show off?” joked one commentator on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 16 July 2019
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Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

  • The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April
  • Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’Young again’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.