China Box Office: Local Animated Film Nudges 'Despicable Me 2' Out of Top Spot

2:31 AM PST 01/28/2014 by Clifford Coonan
LeVision Pictures
Boonie Bears on a roll

Homegrown hit "Boonie Bears: To the Rescue" takes $13.27 million for a $29.75 million cume as the Chinese industry gears up for a major boost during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Local animation Boonie Bears: To the Rescue has knocked the minions of Universal and Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me 2 out of the top spot at the Chinese box office, adding $13.27 million for a cume of $29.75 million after 10 days on screens.

In a tight race between Hollywood muscle and China's finest animated product, the local movie has gained the edge. In the week to Sunday (Jan. 26), Boonie Bears: To the Rescue, a feature version of a hit show on the state broadcaster CCTV, clocked up 139,092 screenings with 2.36 million admissions, at average ticket prices of $5.60, according to data from Entgroup.

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The movie's producers, LeVision Pictures, have hailed its success as a sign of the growing sophistication of the Chinese animation industry.

LeVision said it took $5.2 million on opening day alone, which is a record opening for a domestically produced animated film, knocking the previous record holder, Mission Incredible: Adventures on the Dragon's Tail, off its perch.

China's film industry overlords will be watching closely to see the reaction when Boonie Bears' international reps, the Hong Kong-based All Rights Entertainment, screen the movie at the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin in February.

Despicable Me 2 still came in a close second, continuing its strong performance, notching up a respectable $12.09 million for a cume of $46.26 million, with 2.02 million viewers at 106,000 screenings and average ticket prices coming in at $6.

And another Hollywood movie was close behind, as Paramount's marquee spy franchise Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit had a strong week, taking $11.64 million for a total of $21.38 million after 10 days on Chinese screens. It had 137,400 screenings, with 2.19 million admissions.

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The latest installment of the Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf local animation franchise, Meet the Pegasus, took $4.48 million for a cume of $12.03 and was in fourth place.

In fifth place was the Hong Kong romantic comedy Hello Babies, directed by Vincent Kok with an eye firmly on the upcoming Lunar New Year market, which took $3.42 million for a cume of $11.17 million.

The Harrison Ford-starring adaptation of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi novel Ender's Game is still in the mix in sixth place, taking another $3.42 million for a total of $20.96 million in China after 20 days.

Yet another Chinese animated feature, Balala the Fairies, made the top ten, taking $2.03 million in its first four days.

Rounding out the top ten last week: Jackie Chan's action thriller Police Story 2013, which grossed another $1.58 million to bring its gross to $86.34 million; Feng Xiaogang's comedy Personal Tailor, which took another $800,000 to bring its cume to $115.52 million; and thriller The Apostles, featuring Josie Ho, which took $680,000 for a cume of $1.13 million after 10 days.

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As the success of Boonie Bears shows, these are heady days for animation in China, driven in part by the fact that most Chinese schoolchildren are already on vacation for the country's main annual holiday, Chinese New Year, which falls on Friday (Jan. 31).

Hotly anticipated for the Chinese New Year holiday are two Chinese films, The Monkey King, featuring Hong Kong stars Chow Yun Fat, Donnie Yen and Aaron Kwok, and Dad, Where Are We Going?, a film version of the hit reality TV program from a Korean format, about parenting and outdoor adventures.

Animated turkey movie Free Birds is due to open on Jan. 31. On Feb. 5, Frozen opens in China, and it is widely expected to do well, although local movies have been given nearly a week's head start during the holiday period.

During the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday in 2013, box office sales nationwide were a record $126 million, with 19.25 million people going to the cinema. 

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