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China Box Office: ‘After Earth’ Opens on Top With $13.8 Million

After Earth Will Smith Jaden Smith - H 2013
Columbia Pictures
Will Smith and Jaden Smith in "After Earth"

After a hard flop in North America, Will and Jaden Smith’s father-son sci-fi adventure won the weekend in China despite competition from Jay Chou’s "The Rooftop" and Johnnie To’s "Blind Detective."

HONG KONG – Finally, some good news for Will Smith and director M. Night Shyamalan: After Earth topped the Chinese box office during its opening weekend in the country. 

With the state-backed China Film News blog reporting the rough estimate of the film’s gross from Friday to Sunday at just over $13.8 million (85 million yuan), the film appears to have successfully fended off the challenge of Taiwanese singer-director (and The Green Hornet actor) Jay Chou’s martial arts musical The Rooftop.

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Chou’s film, which opened on Thursday, features talent from Taiwan, mainland China and Hong Kong; it grossed $9.4 million (58 million yuan).

Johnnie To’s Blind Detective, which is already in the second week of its run, took another $12.7 million (78 million yuan), bringing its total to $26.9 million (165 million yuan).

Confidence among Chinese exhibitors in After Earth led to the film securing over 25 percent of total screenings in the country on Monday. The Rooftop has dropped to about 20 percent, followed by Blind Detective at about 12.5 percent.

Now in the third week of its release, Guo Jingming’s Tiny Times has slowed down substantially. It earned just $7.8 million (48 million yuan) last week, with its total now at $77.4 million (475 million yuan). Its presence in cinemas dropped to just under nine percent of total shows on Monday, and it remains to be seen how its sequel will fare as it is rushed to release on Aug. 9, four months earlier than scheduled.

Keanu ReevesMan of Tai Chi is spiraling quickly into oblivion just 10 days into its run: the film, bankrolled partly by the state-owned China Film Group, grossed just $1.38 million (850 million yuan) last week, less than the $1.8 million (11 million yuan) haul of the Sylvester Stallone-starring Snitch, which only opened on Wednesday.

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Reeves' directorial debut has now grossed a total $4.2 million (26 million yuan), but with its shows plummeting to less than 2 percent of total screenings in the country, an upsurge is near impossible. Radius has pledged to release the film in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Meanwhile, Man of Steel pulled in $4.2 million (26 million yuan) last week and has now grossed about $65 million (400 million yuan), with its release ending on July 20.

While Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot enjoyed the privilege of being the only Hollywood import to open in June, other international blockbusters will be fighting for box-office supremacy in the next two weeks. Hard on the heels of After Earth will be White House Down (July 22), followed by Fast & Furious 6 (July 26) and Pacific Rim (July 31).

A black horse in the making will be Mr. Go, a Korean production about a baseball-playing gorilla. Opening on July 18, the film stars mainland Chinese actress Xu Jiao, and is distributed by Huayi Brothers.