Local comedy 'Never Say Die' outperformed Chan's STX-backed action thriller, which earned $21.9 million on Saturday and Sunday.
Martial arts comedy Never Say Die came out swinging at the Chinese box office over the weekend, opening with $46.2 million on Saturday and Sunday.
The slapstick hit relegated Jackie Chan to a rare second-place finish, as his STX-produced action thriller The Foreigner opened with $21.9 million over the same two days.
Sunday was the start of one of China's so-called "Golden Weeks," a lucky succession of national holidays that results in most Chinese employees getting a full seven days off work. In recent years, this reprieve has translated into brisk business at Chinese multiplexes. In response, Chinese regulators have taken to blocking Hollywood movie openings during the holiday, putting the focus on Chinese culture while giving local studios a boost.
Never Say Die was produced by Beijing theater group Mahua Fun Age, the creative force behind last year's comedy smash Goodbye Mr. Loser ($226 million). Never Say Die tells the story of a boxer and a journalist who mysteriously swap bodies after they are zapped by electricity, sending the duo spinning through a series of slapstick misadventures. The film is an adaptation of a hit Mahua stage comedy of the same name. Directed by Song Yang and Zhang Chiyu (the director pair behind the play), the film stars Ai Lun and Ma Li, two of the leads from Mr. Loser.
Directed by Martin Campbell and co-starring Pierce Brosnan, The Foreigner finds Chan in "serious Jackie Chan" mode, playing a humble London businessman whose mysterious past erupts in a revenge-fuelled vendetta when his teenage daughter dies in a terrorist attack. The English-language film earned just shy of $2 million on Imax screens over the weekend. Respectable word of mouth suggests the movie will hold onto second place throughout the week. A U.K.-China co-production, The Foreigner is set to open in North America on Oct. 13.
Chasing the Dragon, a slick martial arts drama starring Hong Kong favorites Donnie Yen and Andy Lau, landed in third place with $14.2 million. It was followed by Sky Hunter, a patriotic air force action flick directed by and starring Li Chen, which earned $13 million. Fan Bingbing, Li's real-life fiancee, co-stars as the romantic lead.
Although Hollywood movies are blocked from opening over National Day, one other familiar Western face did pop up on Chinese screens over the weekend. S.M.A.R.T. Chase, a Chinese road race thriller produced by Shanghai-based Bliss Media and starring Orlando Bloom, also debuted Saturday. The film hit the track with a sputter, however, taking just $1.5 million for the frame.