China Box Office: 'Cold War 2' Leads Weekend Dominated by Local Films

'Cold War 2' Still - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Edko Films

Paramount's 'TMNT 2,' meanwhile, plunged 74 percent, pulling in just $6.6 million in its second weekend in China.

Chinese moviegoers released some pent-up demand for local storytelling over the weekend. After nine consecutive weeks of imported Hollywood movies dominating screens, three Chinese films shot to the top of the local box office.

International Weekend 7/10/16

Comscore for Weekend of 7/10/16
Weekend Cume
1. Cold War 2 $44.2M $44.0M
2. Ice Age: Collision Course $32.2M $57.7M
3. Big Fish & Chinese Flowering Crabapple $32.0M $32.0M
4. Finding Dory $29.7M $22.0M
5. The Legend of Tarzan $27.0M $54.0M
6. So Young 2: Never Gone $26.0M $26.0M
7. Independence Day: Resurgence $21.5M $214.3M
8. Sultan $18.2M $29.0M
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows $11.5M $139.5M
10. Me Before You $10.5M $103.0M

Hong Kong genre master Johnnie To's Cold War 2 led the charge, grossing $44 million from Friday to Sunday, nearly triple the first Cold War's $15.4 million 4-day debut back in 2012. The strong debut should come as some assurance to the Hong Kong film industry, after a string of the city's signature crime thrillers opened relatively soft in the mainland Chinese market over the past couple years (Media Asia Films' Helios took $20.68 million in its four-day opening weekend last year; Overheard 3 earned $24.1 million in its opening week in 2014).

Chow Yun Fat boosted the movie's star power, joining a returning cast including Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung and Eddie Pang. The sequel also got a big splash as the opening movie at the Shanghai Film Festival in June.

Local fantasy animation Big Fish & Begonia, produced and distributed by Beijing Enlight Media, came in No. 2 with an impressive $33.7 million from Friday to Sunday. South Korea's Studio Mir, one of the creative forces behind Nickelodeon's popular animated series Legend of Korra, was heavily involved in the film's production.

Youth romance Never Gone, starring Kris Wu and Liu Yifei, wasn't far behind with $26.7 million. The movie has been promoted as a sequel to actress Vicky Zhao's breakthrough directorial debut So Young, which earned $114.7 million in 2013, an historic haul for the romantic genre in China. Both So Young and Never Gone are based on online novels by author Xin Yiwu, but otherwise the stories aren't related.

Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, meanwhile, plunged 74 percent after winning last weekend with $25.2 million, pulling in just $6.6 million in its second frame. Steep fall-offs for Hollywood imports have been common in China throughout 2016.

The Huayi Brothers' 3D animated film Rock Dog opened in fifth place to a disappointing $3.9 million. Adapted from a comic book written by Chinese rock star Zheng Jun and directed by American animation veteran Ash Brannon (Toy Story 2, Surf’s Up), hopes were high for the movie, which follows a Tibetan mastiff who dreams of rock glory. The English version of the movie features a voice cast including J.K. Simmons, Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Lewis Black, Matt Dillon, and Sam Elliott. International release plans have not yet been announced.

Further down the list, Now You See Me 2's China total inched upwards to $92.7 million and Independence Day: Resurgence hit $73.9 million (both movies have been in Chinese cinemas for 17 days). And Pixar's Finding Dory is ending its China run just under $40 million. As of Sunday, it had earned $37.8 million after 24 days.

The next Hollywood release in China will be Warner Bros.' The Legend of Tarzan on July 19.