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China Box Office: ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Debuts at No. 1

Star Trek Into Darkness U.S.S. Enterprise - H 2013
Sony

J.J. Abrams’ second installment in the outer-space franchise pulls in $25.8 million, edging out Peter Chan’s populist drama "American Dreams in China."

HONG KONG – Star Trek Into Darkness made a solid but unspectacular landing in China, with the film grossing $25.8 million (158 million yuan) in its first six days on release, according to figures released on the state-backed China Film News microblog.

While that result propelled the film to the top of the weekly box office rankings in the country, it didn’t shake the competition off too much: Peter Chan’s American Dreams in China, which has generated rave reviews for its feel-good story about the rise of China as a cultural and economic superpower, still managed to pull in $17.9 million (110 million yuan) in its third week in Chinese cineplexes.

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American Dreams' competitive performance should also be adjusted to account for the discrepancy in ticket prices, as many Star Trek Into Darkness screenings charged more for being 3D. Statistics from Chinese industry consultants suggest the Hollywood import’s average ticket price was a third more than that of the 2D American Dreams in China.

Exhibitors are showing no signs of jumping the American Dreams ship either. Chinese entertainment industry research firm, Entgroup reports that Chan’s film took up 26.6 percent of all screenings in China on June 3, compared to 27.9 percent for Star Trek. In several major cities -- Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing and Xi’an -- it appeared American Dreams actually sold more individual tickets than Star Trek. 

Meanwhile, The Croods continues its steady run in China, taking yet another $5.7 million (35 million yuan) in what is now its seventh week on release in the country. Despite being beaten to fourth place in the weekly rankings by the domestic animation Happy Little Submarine 3 – Rainbow Treasure ($6.8 million/42 million yuan), the film has now grossed a total of $63.6 million (390 million yuan) in China.

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The Dreamworks animation also managed to bring in many more heads per screening than its more widely screened homegrown competitors. According to Entgroup’s figures, The Croods brought in 34 moviegoers peer show on Sunday, compared to 20 for Submarine and 22 for another domestic animation film, The Adventures of Sinbad 2013.

Iron Man 3 is also still hanging in there, taking $2.6 million (16 million yuan) to bring its Chinese box office total to $127 million (780 million yuan). The Marvel-DMG production is now the fourth highest-grossing foreign-language film to be released in China (behind Avatar, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Titanic 3D) and seventh overall (with recent Chinese-language entries being Lost in Thailand, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons and CZ12).