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Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway opened to strong reviews in China over the weekend, but it indeed proved the hare in the local box office race, finishing in second behind Chinese sports drama Never Stop.
Monday is Dragon Boat Festival in China, a national holiday. Peter Rabbit 2, directed by Will Gluck, earned $7.8 million from Friday to Sunday, with Sony projecting a $11.1 million finish for the full holiday weekend. Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan estimates the sequel end its run with $19.9 million, which would be 24 percent behind the first Peter Rabbit film’s 2018 total of $26.3 million in China.
It’s possible that the strong word of mouth for Peter Rabbit 2 — it’s currently scoring 9.3 on Maoyan and 7.4 on Douban — could help it exceed early forecasts. By late morning Monday in China the Sony sequel had leapt ahead of Never Stop, which has far more middling social scores — 8.4 from Maoyan; 5.7 on Douban.
Never Stop, the directorial debut of Han Bowen, stars Zheng Kai (The Eight Hundred, The Ex-Files franchise) as a past-his-prime Chinese track star. It opened Saturday at the front of the pack and pulled in $10.2 million by the end of Sunday.
The Alibaba-backed suspense drama Are You Lonesome Tonight, another directorial debut, opened in third with $6.9 million, including $500,000 on Imax. The film is produced by veteran hitmaker Ning Hao and helmed by newcomer Shi Wenpei. A criminal mystery set on a hot summer night in Southern China, it stars Taiwanese screen icons Eddie Peng and Sylvia Chang, and character actor Wang Yanhui (Dying to Survive).
Japanese anime import Hello World made a respectable $6.3 opening in fourth place, which was substantially better than its full $4.4 million theatrical run at home in Japan in late 2019. The film is directed by Tomohiko Itō and produced by Graphinica. Beijing-based specialty distributor Road Pictures picked it up and released it in China.
Actor turned director Bao Beier’s sentimental dramedy Sunny Sisters opened in fifth with $5.6 million ($6.3 million including a generous run of previews).
Altogether, Dragon Boat Festival 2021 is shaping up to be a relatively sluggish holiday weekend. To date, China’s box office has generated $4.14 billion in ticket sales this year, 8.9 percent behind the equivalent period in 2019.
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