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India’s Aamir Khan remains a king of the Chinese box office.
The Bollywood actor’s latest international hit, musical drama Secret Superstar, opened in first place with $27 million, outshining 20th Century Fox new release Ferdinand and Sony’s Jumanji in its second weekend.
Khan’s family sports drama Dangal set an all-time record for a non-Hollywood release in China last year, earning a historic $193 million.
Superstar won’t reach those heights, but its predecessor’s huge success gave Khan and his partners the leverage necessary to secure a revenue-sharing quota release with China Film Group, granting the producers a 25 percent slice of all ticket sales — a concession usually extended only to high-earning Hollywood titles. Smaller international films typically are sold to Chinese distributors for a flat fee upfront, occasionally with additional backend baked in if the film hits predetermined performance benchmarks.
Local period romance Forever Young, meanwhile, held onto second place in its second frame, adding a healthy $23.4 million and lifting its 10-day total to $68.3 million, according to data from EntGroup. The film stars local favorites Zhang Ziyi and Huang Xiaoming.
Ferdinand scored third place with $8.7. After opening in 58 markets the Carlos Saldanha-directed 3D animation — which tells the story of a pacifist bull who refuses to enter the bullfighting ring — has brought in $155.7 million.
Lionsgate’s heartwarming family drama Wonder opened just a step behind with $8.6 million. And Sony’s Jumanji added $7.7 million, a rather steep slide from its $40 million opening. The Dwayne Johnson tentpole’s China total stands at $66.4 million.
A Better Tomorrow 4, the latest sequel in the action crime franchise started by John Woo, misfired with just $6.30 million in its opening weekend.
Chinese-Australian co-production Guardians of the Tomb, starring Li Bingbing, Kellan Lutz and Kelsey Grammer, fared even worse, opening to just $6.1 million. The horror flick is co-produced by Australia’s Arclight Film and China Film Group, among others, and directed by Kimble Rendall. The story follows a team of scientists who battle against giant, man-eating spiders. It has been hit with particularly harsh word of mouth, scoring just 3.9/10 from reviews site Douban and 6.6/10 from ticketing service Maoyan.
And far, far away from the rest of the pack, Disney’s and Lucasfilm’s Star War: The Last Jedi sputtered into its third weekend with just $910,000, bringing its total to a disappointing $41.3 million. The film has earned considerably more in the much smaller individual markets of Europe — $107.4 million in the U.K., $77.7 million in Germany and $60.2 million in France — underscoring just how little interest the Chinese audience has in the Star Wars franchise compared to the West.
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