China Box Office: 'Monster Hunt' Leads Charge by Domestic Movies in Record-Smashing July

Courtesy of Edko Films

The CGI/live action fantasy epic helped the Chinese box office to a record performance in July.

Hong Kong director Raman Hui's Monster Hunt racked up another $68.36 million in July for a cume of $290.55 million after 18 days, with 276,988 showings and 11.48 million admissions.

Chinese films accounted for the top seven movies last week, according to data from Entgroup, with the large number of admissions boosted by the ongoing school and college vacations. The annual blackout on Hollywood tentpoles until mid-August will also have helped.

Set in a world where monsters and humans co-exist, Monster Hunt tells the story of Wuba, a monster born to be king. Wuba becomes the central figure in stopping an all-out monster civil war. The movie is produced by Hong Kong's Edko Films and cost $40 million to make, and features a stellar cast of Hong Kong and Chinese actors, including Bai Baihe, Jiang Wu, Eric Tsang, Elaine Jin, Tang Wei and Sandra Ng.

Last month, Monster Hunt became the biggest domestic movie ever, snatching Lost in Thailand's crown. Its already racked up single day, single day for IMAX, opening day and opening weekend box-office records for a Chinese film.

Monster Hunt's performance drove a record month in July, when box office scored $884 million, which is not far off the total box office take for 2009. Unsurprisingly given the "domestic films protection period," homegrown films contributed 95.6 percent of the total.

An official from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) told local media that 159 million people went to the movies in July and that box office revenue this year so far has totaled $4.16 billion.

This puts it on track for passing the $5 billion total, of which the market fell just shy last year, in the next few weeks. The overall market has been lifted so far this year by Hollywood fare including Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Behind Monster Hunt came Pancake Man (Jian Bing Man), which added $24.29 million for a cume of $164.23 million after 17 days on release. The superhero parody film features Jean-Claude Van Damme as a villain and is written, directed and stars Da Peng.

Pancake Man had far fewer showings at 177,354, while admissions were 4.56 million for the week to Aug. 2, according to Entgroup.

In third place was the animated film Monkey King: Hero Is Back, which took $17.53 million for a 24-day gross of $125.92 million. The latest take on the Monkey King legend had 3.2 million admissions.

Behind that came a trio of debutants.

The period drama Lady of the Dynasty took $14.83 million in its opening four days, with 128,681 showings and 2.9 million admissions, followed in fifth place by the romantic action comedy Wild City, which took $14.19 million from 103,319 showings.

John Woo's epic 3D second part to The Crossing took $5 million in its opening four days, with 60,231 showings and 839,253 admisssions, putting it in sixth place.

In seventh place was local romantic comedy Only You, featuring Liao Fan and Tang Wei, which took $3 million in its first full week for a cume of $10.71 million. Only You is a remake of the 1994 Hollywood film of the same name that starred Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.

The blackout generally applies to big-budget tentpoles, and there is room for smaller, independent projects which are unlikely to trouble the main domestic titles. The only Hollywood movie to make the top 10 was Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game, which added $2.29 million for a gross of $5.33 million after 13 days.

In ninth place was another animated film, Seer Movie 5: Rise of Thunder, which took $2.09 million for a gross of $8.73 million, with Paris Holiday rounding out the top 10, taking $1.82 million in its opening three days.

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