China Box Office: 'San Andreas' Shakes Up World's Second Biggest Film Market

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.

'Stand By Me Doraemon' racks up another good week as Sino-Japanese tensions ease.

Warner Bros. and New Line's San Andreas is the latest Hollywood title to send tremors through the Chinese theaters, taking $55 million in its first six days according to data from the studios. 

San Andreas resonated with audiences and owes some of its success to earthquakes being a common natural disaster in China. In May 2008, a 7.9-magnitude quake killed nearly 90,000 people and left 4.8 million homeless in Sichuan province.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson came to Beijing to promote San Andreas, always a good move, although he is already big star in the country because of his role in Furious 7. San Andreas had 286,280 screenings and 8.24 million admissions in the week to June 7, according to data analysts Entgroup.

San Andreas knocked the manga movie Stand By Me Doraemon, the first Japanese film shown in China in nearly three years, into second place last week, but the chubby cat robot with a magical pocket still managed to add $35.31 million for a gross of $74.45 million after 11 days, Entgroup figures show. Stand By Me Doraemon had 259,788 screenings and 6.19 million admissions.

Since 2012, there have been heightened tensions between Japan and China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, as well as Tokyo’s perceived failure to properly atone for WW II atrocities, and the last Japanese movie to unspool here was an Ultraman movie in 2012.

In third place, Disney's superhero blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron continues to do very good business, although it never really threatened Furious 7's awesome $390 million record. It racked up another $7.33 million for a gross of $238.52 million after 27 days, with 94,796 screenings and 1.17 million admissions.

Bollywood tentpole PK took another $4.44 million to bring its China cume to $16.74 million after 17 days, bringing its total past the 100 million yuan ($16.11 million) threshold, the first Indian movie to do this. It's also rare for a non-Hollywood foreign film to break that threshold.

The success of Doraemon and PK is being seen as a sign of growing diversity in the Chinese market. Both movies were marketed skillfully in the same way as Hollywood movies are, and more non-U.S. foreign movies are expected to start bringing in box office.

Behind that came Disney's Tomorrowland, which took another $3.91 million for a cume of $18.32 million after 13 days. It was followed by Happy Little Submarine Magic Box of Time, which took $2.68 million for a gross of $5.09 million, and I, Frankenstein, which took $1.07 million for a gross of $7.55 million.

Rounding out the charts was Monsters, with $440,000 in its opening weekend, The Grow 2, which took another $410,000, and Lost in Wrestling, with $220,000.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan

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