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Although he’s little known in the West, Chinese writer-director-star Xu Zheng has cemented his status as a comedy kingpin of the global box office.
His latest freewheeling comedy romp, Lost in Hong Kong, rocketed to the top of China’s box office charts this past week, grossing $106.8 million in its opening weekend — the most ever for a Chinese film.
The performance puts Xu well ahead of Hollywood comedy contemporary Judd Apatow, whose Trainwreck grossed just over $30 million in July, but a notch below Todd Philips, whose Hangover Part II earned a historic $177.8 million in its first three days in 2011, still the biggest worldwide opening gross for a comedy film. Hollywood’s best comedy outing of the summer was Pitch Perfect 2, which debuted to $69.2 million.
Lost‘s record-breaking weekend came from a massive 284,000 screenings over three days from Friday to Sunday, according to Beijing-based Entgroup. The third film in a series of road movies, the comedy is an homage to the golden age of Hong Kong cinema, which millions of mainland Chinese in their ticket-buying twenties grew up watching (more on the film and its appeal here).
Lost is Xu’s follow-up, though not a direct sequel, to the equally successful, all-around pop culture phenomenon Lost in Thailand, which was released in 2012 and grossed a massive $208 million. The first film in the series, Lost on Journey, was released in 2010. Despite the similar titles and talent involved, each film has completely independent storylines.
Hollywood contenders took a big hit as Lost arrived on the scene. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation added $11.43 for a China total of $131.89 million, while Minions took $8.98 million for the week, bumping its cume to $59.29 million after nine days.
In fourth, local romance The Third Way of Love opened to $7.49 million in three days.
Hinting at an imminent slowdown in Lost in Hong Kong‘s record run, Lu Chuan‘s hotly anticipated debut as a commercial sci-fi director, Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe, took fifth place with $3.19 million from two nights of limited preview screenings. The film opens wide Sept. 30, along with superstar Andy Lau‘s Saving Mr. Wu and comedy tentpole Goodbye Mr. Loser, just in time for the October Golden Week holiday, one of China’s busiest moviegoing slots of the year.
Sony’s Pixels slid to sixth, grossing $3.18 million for a disappointing $15.35 million China cume. South Korean box office champ Assassination earned $2.82 million for seventh, while Goodbye Mr. Loser and Saving Mr. Wu pulled in $1.65 million and $870,000, respectively, from previews. Local fantasy vehicle The Mirror came in ninth with $890,000.
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