The box office prospects of James Cameron's latest work, Titanic 3D, have been the most discussed topic among theater managers recently in China.
The blockbuster resurfaced in Chinese theaters on Tuesday in 3D and 3D IMAX, 100 years after the historic ship's maiden voyage and 14 years after the 2D version's premiere in China.
It had been the highest-grossing film in the country, raking in 360 million yuan ($55 million) in 1998, until Transformers 2 broke the record in 2009 by taking in 450 million yuan.
Fourteen years later, the question of whether the new version of the timeless romance will recreate its former box office glory provoked mixed reactions.
The film opened in most theaters nationwide as early as midnight on Tuesday.
Chen Hongwei, marketing manager of Wanda Cinemas, told China Daily that the film was screened at midnight on Tuesday in each of Wanda's 80 theaters, garnering 2.4 million yuan.
It was the second-highest-grossing midnight screening the company had seen. The highest was that of Transformers 3 last year, which made 3 million yuan.
When asked to predict how the film would do at the box office, theater managers were split, but Chen was clearly optimistic.
"I believe in the chemistry between a classic and a new technology," he said. "It provides something for those who are ready for memory-collecting and those who want fresh visual impact."
Wu Hehu, deputy general manager of Shanghai United Cinema Lines, was more conservative.
"Things are different than they were 14 years ago," he said. "Moviegoers did not have as many choices as they do today."
He points out that another big ship movie is coming to compete at the box office: The sci-fi blockbuster, Battleship, starring Liam Neeson, which will premiere in China on April 18. Beginning on May 4, The Avengers, featuring a stellar cast of Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, will give filmgoers an even greater choice.
Wu anticipates that Titanic 3D may gross 300 to 400 million yuan, but young theater manager Chen Zheng thinks this figure is underestimated.
Chen told China Daily that the midnight screening in South China Cinema Circuit, where he works, earned about 800,000 yuan, which, he said, was a very good revenue for a Tuesday.