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Hollywood returned to the top of China’s box office for the first time in nearly two months, as The Predator opened to a modest $20.7 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates. Leading box-office tracker Artisan Gateway had the film earning a slightly smaller $18.1 million, however.
Either way, the rather downbeat total reflects a broader deceleration in Chinese box-office growth this fall. Chinese animation Crystal Sky of Yesterday opened in second place with just $6.9 million, according to Artisan Gateway.
After a period of high local product quality over the summer, Fall 2018 has seen a dearth of Chinese hits. Bona Film Group’s Hong Kong crime thriller Project Gutenberg has been the biggest earner, totaling $172.3 million and adding $6.1 million last frame. But that healthy haul was no match for the $334 million earned by Chinese comedy Never Say Die during the same period last year.
Artisan Gateway estimates that ticket sales in China are down 33 percent this month compared with last year, from a total of $694.3 million (4.83 billion RMB) in October 2017 to $465.6 million (3.24 billion RMB) in October 2018.
Warner Bros.’ animation Smallfoot landed in fourth place for the weekend with just $3.1 million, nudging its China total to $7.8 million. Indian import, Hichki, part of an ongoing trend of Bollywood market strength in the Middle Kingdom, added $2.6 million for a $16.8 million total.
Beijing regulators appear to be banking on an influx of Hollywood fare to help reverse the season’s slowdown. November will bring a flood of U.S. studio content to China, with Universal’s The House With a Clock in Its Walls opening Nov. 1; Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms bowing Nov. 2; Sony’s Venom on Nov. 9; Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on Nov. 16; Disney animation Ralph Breaks the Internet on Nov. 23; and Warner Bros.’ Crazy Rich Asians on Nov. 30. The latter studio’s much anticipated DC superhero title Aquaman will then bow Dec. 7.
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