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Different economic superpower, different blockbuster.
While most of the known universe was watching Disney’s and Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War over the weekend, Chinese cinemagoers were filling seats for a local sensation of their own. Us and Them, a hit coming-of-age romance directed by Taiwanese pop star turned actress Rene Liu, kicked off China’s Labor Day holiday weekend with $88.8 million in two days.
The film follows the story of two young strangers, played by local heartthrobs Jing Boran and Zhou Dongyu, who meet by accident on a train while traveling home to China’s remote northeast. Hong Kong pop star Eason Chan sang the movie’s theme song, which is also topping the local charts.
Labor Day, also known as May Day, falls on Tuesday this year, so Chinese workers were required to work Saturday but given Monday as a holiday, making a three-day weekend. Us and Them debuted Saturday to $44.8 million and added $44 million Sunday; its total should climb considerably as the holiday progresses.
Infinity War was missing from the scene thanks to one of Beijing’s usual protectionist blackouts, which bar imported Hollywood films from opening over the most lucrative holiday periods. Had Infinity War debuted day-and-date in China, the world’s No. 2 box-office territory, Marvel probably could have added a couple hundred-million dollars to its record for the biggest worldwide debut of all time — already an astonishing $630 million. Instead, Chinese film fans will have to wait two weeks for Infinity War‘s arrival May 11.
Us and Them claimed an estimated 51 percent of all screenings in China on Saturday and Sunday, leaving little room for other new releases. Mystery thriller A or B fared the best, opening to $15.2 million. The film, written and directed by Pengyuan Ren, tells the story of a millionaire businessman who is kidnapped and forced to make choices in a series of mysterious dilemmas.
Now in its third weekend in China, Dwayne Johnson’s Rampage fell to third place, adding approximately $5 million for a local total of $126.7 million. That’s Hollywood’s second-biggest China total for 2018, so far, behind Ready Player One ($212 million) but a bit better than Black Panther ($105 million).
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