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Fantasy-adventure flick Mojin – The Lost Legend and local comedy romp Devil and Angel led the Chinese box office during the busy week of Christmas, which in recent years has emerged as a popular date-night occasion in China’s larger cities.
As per recent custom, Hollywood titles are blocked from the Chinese market through the latter half of January as film regulators give local titles an uncontested run at the box office during the lucrative year-end movie-going period.
In its second week in Chinese cinemas, Mojin added $95.7 million to last week’s record-breaking opening for a 10-day cume of $188.81 million, according to Beijing-based research firm EntGroup. Directed by Mongolian-Chinese filmmaker Wuershan and stocked with A-list Chinese stars, the film is an adaptation of a wildly popular online novel about the exploits of a young team of tomb raiders.
Although Mojin was back on top by Sunday, the blockbuster was actually beaten on Thursday, Friday and Saturday by actor-director Deng Chao’s lowbrow comedy Devil and Angel, which grossed $79.27 million over its first four days. The film is the follow-up to Deng’s first directorial effort, The Breakup Guru, which became a surprise hit in July 2014, grossing $103 million against Transformers 4.
Despite its big bow, Devil and Angel has received some of the worst reviews of any major Chinese release of the year (an average score of 3.9 on reviews aggregator Douban, and 4.4 on rival service Mtime), and it seems to be taking a toll. The film’s performance has steadily slipped, from $23.39 million on Thursday to $21.71 million on Friday, down to $19.12 million and $12.92 million on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Demonstrating the Chinese box office’s increasing diversity, gritty crime drama Mr. Six, which screened at the Toronto and Venice film festivals, also beat most analysts’ expectations, grossing $39.73 million from Thursday to Sunday. The film features acclaimed Chinese director Feng Xiaogang in the lead role as a wistful, aging gangster who must fight his way though contemporary China’s increasingly craven and less honor-bound underworld. Monday box-office estimates have the movie, produced by Huayi Brothers, grossing $7.62 million and climbing past Mojin ($6.06 million Monday) into first place.
Falling from second to fourth for the week, period comedy Surprise earned $8.40 million, lifting its 10-day cumulative total to $49.45 million.
Actor turned director Chen Sicheng’s upcoming comedy mystery Detective Chinatown landed in fifth place, selling $4.43 million worth of tickets to preview screenings on Saturday and Sunday. Set in Thailand and produced by Wanda and Heyi Pictures, the movie should do sizable business when it opens wide on Wednesday.
Romantic drama Forever Love added $1.17 million to its decidedly underwhelming $4.48 million total after 17 days. Patrick Kong’s Anniversary, another underperforming romance picture, opened to a dismal $860,000 from Thursday to Sunday.
Light Chaser Animation’s much anticipated first film, Little Door Gods, scored $800,000 from a second round of preview screenings to make it into eighth place.
In ninth, Alcon and DMG Entertainment’s Point Break reboot — now bombing stateside — added a final $700,000 to its $38.60 million 24-day China total.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water sopped up the bottom of the charts with $330,000. The Nickelodeon movie has grossed $8.79 million in China.
Hollywood won’t be back on Chinese screens in a big way until J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens descends upon the market on Jan. 9.
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