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HONG KONG – In what has proved to be a literal manifestation of the better-late-than-never proverb, Fast & Furious 6 – which was originally slated for a mid-June release – sped past the 100 million yuan threshold in just three days to become mainland China’s top-earning movie last week.
Opening on Friday, the latest entry of the Vin Diesel-starring car-obsessed franchise took in $23.6 million (144.5 million yuan) up until and including Sunday, according to statistics released by the Chinese entertainment business analysts Entgroup, with Universal reporting earnings of $24.3 million, including $3 million from Imax shows. It’s a figure that saw Justin Lin‘s film edge past White House Down, which has grossed $18.6 million (114.1 million yuan) since it bowed Monday.
The buzz built around the FF6‘s postponed release has led to its heavy exposure in Chinese theaters. According to Entgroup’s figures, the film took up 41 percent of total screenings across mainland China on Friday and rose during the weekend to 45 percent. White House Down, which had maintained a 30 percent grip on screenings from Monday to Thursday, saw its share drop to 19 percent on Friday as a result.
Placing third in the weekly rankings is Mr. Go, the China-South Korea co-production about the antics of a CGI baseball-playing gorilla that has now taken just under $16.3 million (100 million yuan) since it opened July 17. Set mostly in Seoul, the film’s Chinese link lies with its human lead, the actress Xu Jiao.
The two-way battle between Fast & Furious 6 and White House Down for domination of Chinese cineplexes has provided Hollywood with a rare hurrah, given the lackluster performance of U.S. blockbusters in China this year. During the first six months of 2013, homegrown productions have outgrossed imported productions by taking more than 60 percent of the country’s total box office.
This recent mini-resurgence for Hollywood films actually began with After Earth, the M. Night Shyamalan vehicle that was panned around the world. The film began its reign as daily box-office champion when it was released July 12; while briefly overtaken by the newly opened Mr. Go on July 18 and 19, the Will Smith starrer then regained the top spot before White House Down took it over last Monday.
With Pacific Rim slated to open Wednesday, Hollywood producers could look forward to an uninterrupted presence at the top of the Chinese gross charts for at least the next two weeks, with the only obstacle to its dominance being Liu Jie’s Young Style, a midbudget high school comedy that has secured some critical buzz on China’s vibrant social media platforms, with the film expected to play well with students enjoying their summer vacation, especially those in second- or third-tier cities where domestic productions are more warmly received.
It will be on Aug. 9 that the next glut of major Chinese releases will unspool – including Gao Qunshu‘s thriller Crimes of Passion and the sequel of Guo Jingming’s Tiny Times. While Guo has continued posting updates about the second installment’s release on his Weibo portal – the Chinese equivalent of Twitter – Tiny Times 2 was not listed on China Film Group’s latest release schedule for August.
China Film Group announced last week that Tiny Times will have its run in Chinese cinemas extended. The film took in $12,500 during the past weekend when it was released on three screens in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Jurassic Park 3D and Monsters University will open in the country on Aug. 20 and 23, respectively.
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