China Box Office: 'After Earth' Retains Pole Position –- But Not for Long

"After Earth"
"After Earth"
 Columbia Pictures

HONG KONG – After Earth has emerged from its second week in China still on top of the earnings rankings, despite the challenge of two South Korea-China co-productions featuring, respectively, a baseball-playing gorilla and a spirit trapped in a pen.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Will and Jaden Smith spectacle took in $16.3 million (100 million yuan) in the week from July 15 to 21, according to statistics released on Monday on the microblog of the state-backed China Film News magazine. The film has now taken in $30.4 million (187 million yuan) since it opened on July 12.

But After Earth’s run is expected to slow this week, as the Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx action blockbuster White House Down crashes into Chinese cinemas. Released under a Chinese title which translated as “A Crisis Shocking to the Heavens," the film took up 29 percent of the country’s screenings, more than double that of After Earth. Early rough estimates for Monday’s gross on the oft-visited dianyingpiaofangba (“Film Box Office” in Chinese) online portal revealed White House Down as having generated about $3.7 million (23 million yuan), compared to After Earth’s $716,300 (4.4 million yuan).

Coming in second to After Earth is Mr. Go, directed by South Korean director Kim Yong-hwa and starring mainland Chinese actress Xu Jiao. But the film's biggest star is the titular baseball-playing gorilla -- and he has hit a home run of sorts for its co-producers Showbox and Huayi Brothers, taking in $9.8 million (60 million yuan) for the week, according to China Film News’ figures.

Following the two films on the list was Bunshinsaba II, Ahn Byeong-ki’s sequel to his hit 2012 Chinese adaptation of his own 2004 South Korean blockbuster. The film, which revolves around the shocking demise of a group of university students who summoned up a spirit with a pen, has grossed $8.1 million (50 million yuan) during the past week. 

Other top box-office performers from the past week include  Jay Chou’s The Rooftop, which became the first Chinese-language musical film to break the 100 million yuan ($16.3 million) threshold, and Johnnie To’s Blind Detective, which leapfrogged the 200 million yuan mark ($32.6 million). The much-maligned Tiny Times, meanwhile, is creeping toward the 500 million yuan ($82.4 million) milestone.

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