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In a quiet weekend without big new releases, holdover family drama A Dog’s Purpose staged a surprise upset over Wolverine threequel Logan.
Boosted by rave word of mouth, A Dog’s Purpose, from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, panted its way to $21 million — besting the $17 million it took in during its first frame. After 10 days, the film has earned $53.6 million in the Middle Kingdom.
Fox’s Logan, meanwhile, slipped to $18.6 million after debuting to a muscular $49 million for the Friday-to-Sunday prior. The film has now earned $87.2 million after two weekends.
The healthy China performance of A Dog’s Purpose is a boon for Amblin. The film has grossed a decent $61.7 million in North America since its release Jan. 27, but it likely was hurt by a leaked video showing a dog being shoved into a water tank during production.
The film is the first Amblin release to hit the Chinese market since local studio Alibaba Pictures took a minority stake in the company last year.
China Film Group imported A Dog’s Purpose, while fellow state-backed company Huaxia handled distribution. Alibaba Pictures acted as the local marketing partner, via its subsidiary Beijing Asian Union Culture and Media Investment. Alibaba’s mobile ticketing service Tao Piaopiao also promoted the film.
A spike in the popularity of pets in China is also seen as having given the film a lift. Once viewed as an elitist affectation by the Chinese Communist Party, dog ownership has rapidly increased in the country in recent years, with more than 62 million companions registered nationwide in 2016.
Alibaba Pictures rolled out an array of dog-loving promotional initiatives — both online and offline — during the lead-up to the movie’s release. Using parent company Alibaba’s big data resources, the studio with its online promotional campaigns targeted pet lovers, female moviegoers and families. Alibaba Pictures also organized a series of dog adoption activities in shopping malls across China and held a number of screenings open to dog owners and their pets.
Further down the charts, Resident Evil: Final Chapter came in third, earning $6.5 million for the weekend and lifting its China total to $153.1 million, according to Ent Group.
The two leading new release were Japanese film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, with $3 million in its first three days; and Genius, starring Jude Law and Colin Firth, with $1.4 million.
The next major U.S. titles to hit the Chinese market will be Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast on Friday, followed by Legendary and Warner Bros.’ Kong: Skull Island on March 24.
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