China Box Office: 'xXx: Return of Xander Cage' Opens to Massive $61.9M

George Kraychyk/Paramount Pictures
"xXx: Return of Xander Cage"

The film co-stars Donnie Yen and Kris Wu, two of greater China's biggest celebrities.

Vin Diesel's xXx: Return of Xander Cage from Paramount and Revolution Studios roared into China over the weekend with a muscular $61.9 million opening.

The impressive Chinese haul easily eclipsed the movie's total performance in North America so far, where it has earned $42 million since its debut on Jan. 20. It also is the biggest Hollywood bow in China — the world's second-largest box-office territory — this year, nearly doubling Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's $31 million launch. 

The third entry in the xXx extreme-sports/spy-action franchise, Return of Xander Cage is the first Hollywood title to hit the market after the Chinese New Year holiday period, which was dominated by the latest local blockbusters from Stephen Chow and Jackie Chan.

Diesel is a major star in the Middle Kingdom, thanks to the Fast and Furious franchise. Furious 7 remains the biggest Hollywood movie ever in the country with its remarkable $390 million run in 2015.

Return of Xander Cage also was boosted by lots of local support, including co-stars Donnie Yen and Kris Wu, two of greater China's biggest celebrities. And the film is the first Paramount release since China's Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media closed a $1 billion slate financing deal with the studio. The two Chinese film companies were heavily involved in the xXx local marketing campaign.

The Chinese success of the third installment is a big win for Paramount, which acquired rights to the xXx franchise last February. Sony released the first two xXx films, neither of which got a major release in China. 

Jackie Chan's Chinese New Year holdover release Kung Fu Yoga came in second over the weekend, adding $15.6 million for a $227.8 million total after 16 days, according to data from Beijing box-office tracker Ent Group. The India-set action comedy is rapidly closing in on Stephen Chow's fantasy Journey to the West: Demon Chapter to become the biggest release of the year so far. Slowing its pace, Demon Chapter earned $6.8 million in the recent frame, taking its cume to $232.3 million.

Hong Kong-Chinese culinary comedy Cook Up a Storm opened in third place over the weekend. Directed by Raymond Yip and starring Nicholas Tse, the film pulled in $12.4 million in its first three days, narrowly beating coming-of-age holdover Duckweed, which netted another $12 million, lifting its 16-day total to $127.8 million. Directed by celebrity blogger turned race-car driver turned filmmaker Han Han, Duckweed was the sleeper sensation of Chinese New Year 2017.

On Saturday, La La Land earned an impressive $1.7 million from limited previews — a good sign for the Oscar hopeful's upcoming Valentine's Day release in China. Musicals historically have underperformed in the Chinese market, but early buzz around the glossy Damien Chazelle-directed romance is looking very positive. La La Land currently has scores of 8.7 and 8.3 on leading local reviews sites Douban and Mtime — higher than any other film presently on screens in the country.   

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