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Hello Mr. Billionaire continued its domination at China’s box office with $66 million in its second weekend, pushing the comedy well past the locally symbolic 1 billion yuan mark ($146 million) for a massive 10-day cume of $296 million.
The film, loosely based on Universal’s 1985 Richard Pryor vehicle Brewster’s Millions, has overcome mixed reviews and negative social media commentary, as well as a new controversy surrounding its lead actress Vivian Sung.
A clip has emerged of the Taiwanese-born Sung claiming that her “favorite country [was] Taiwan.” The clip comes from a 2015 interview, was unearthed last week, and has lead to Chinese nationalists in the mainland branding her a pro-Taiwan independence supporter and proposing a boycott of Hello Mr. Billionaire.
Fearing a huge backlash, Sung wasted no time in releasing a statement on the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo on Aug. 2, asserting that, “I am Chinese… Taiwan is my hometown, China is my motherland.”
While China’s “netizens” seemed to have been pacified, Sung’s statement infuriated her Taiwanese compatriots, who accused her of “forgetting her birthplace for money” and vowed not to see another film starring the actress who made her start in Taiwanese writer-director Giddens Ko’s 2014 Café Waiting Love, according to Apple Daily.
Hello Mr. Billionaire does not yet have a Taiwan release date.
Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee and The Four Heavenly Kings took second place for the second consecutive weekend, taking $13 million for a cume of $77 million.
This weekend saw three films debut in the top five, with fantasy animation Wind Guardians in third place with $11 million and homegrown animated sequel Yugo & Lala 4 in fifth place with $7 million.
Sandwiched between the two local animated movies was Cannes winner Shoplifters. Directed by Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shoplifters made $7.14 million in China in its first three days. The critical darling recently set a box-office record in Japan by reaching billion yen mark ($9 million) in the fastest time.
Universal and Legendary Entertainment’s Skyscraper, starring Dwayne Johnson, grossed $8.7 million during the period, totaling a muscular $94 million, significantly exceeding the actioner’s U.S. domestic take of $64 million.
The highest-grossing film so far this summer in China, Dying to Survive, made another $5.4 million to take its cume to $448.9 million.
The Luc Besson-produced Taxi 5, the latest from the French franchise that had an international combined gross of $302.8 million, opened in China with a $3.4 million three-day take.
Also opening during the week was Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. The star-studded musical bombed in China, making only $323,000 in three days. But the film’s prospects were hampered by a limited release in fewer than 40 cinemas in the country.
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