China Box Office: 'Dragon Blade' Dominates Lunar New Year Holiday

Chinese Lunar New Year - H 2015
AP Images

Chinese Lunar New Year - H 2015

The top five movies in China took in a hefty $175 million among them in the first four days of the Chinese New Year holiday season.

The big winner as the Year of the Goat began was the historical action movie Dragon Blade, starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody, which took $54.84 million in its opening four days, according to data from Entgroup. The movie had 132,874 screenings and notched up 8.14 million admissions.

Directed by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is based on a story about a missing legion of Roman soldiers that traveled into China in 48 BCE. The cast also includes South Korea's Choi Si-won, member of the K-pop band Super Junior, who previously appeared in Battle of Wits.

The movie took 32.6 percent of total income on the first day of the Chinese New Year and took $33 million over the holiday weekend.

Cusack plays Lucius, a Roman general who led a legion of 1,000 soldiers into Han Dynasty China. Brody plays Tiberius, who has assassinated Rome's Consul Crassus and chased after Lucius with a force of 100,000 soldiers. Chan stars as the commander of the Protectorate of the Western Regions who teams up with Lucius to protect China's borders and sovereignty.

In second place was the follow-up to the Chow Yun-fat movie, The Man from Macau, which took $43.10 million in its opening four days from 101,691 screenings and 6.49 million admissions.

Behind that came Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal, a $30 million, 3D, VFX fantasy action adventure co-directed by Peter Pau and Zhao Tianyu and produced by Ann An of Desen International Media.

Featuring Chinese stars Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction) and Chen Kun (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate), the movie took in $31.20 million after four days of release in the world's second biggest film market, with 92,242 screenings and 4.68 million admissions.

The film is about legendary Chinese anti-hero Zhong Kui (Chen), a young man endowed with mysterious powers. He is forced into battle among the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell in a dire attempt to save his countrymen and rescue the woman (Li) he loves.

In fourth place was the $40 million Sino-French epic Wolf Totem, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, which took $32.33 million in its opening four days, including around $7 million in presales.

However, despite being backed by the mighty China Film Group, the movie seems to have had a relatively low number of screenings at 68,172 and 3.73 million admissions.

This compares with the fifth most popular movie of the week, the reality TV adaptation Dad, Where Are We Going? 2, which had many more screenings at 86,258 and 3.8 million admissions, and earned $20.65 million in its four days in the cinemas.

Dad, Where Are We Going? 2 is one of a growing genre of reality TV adaptations that leading directors such as Feng Xiaogang see as a blight on creativity in the Chinese industry.

Running Man, an adaptation of a Korean format, recently took nearly $70 million after 17 days of release, which is 11 days longer than it reportedly took to shoot.

In sixth place was the Hong Kong movie Triumph in the Skies, directed by Wilson Yip and Matt Chow, and starring Louis Koo, Sammi Cheng, Charmaine Sheh and Amber Kuo.

Behind that was another TV reality adaptation, indeed another version of Dad, Where Are We Going? called Emperor Holiday, which took $8.95 million in its first four days.

Xu Jinglei's romance Somewhere Only We Know took another $6.31 million for a gross of $44.27 million after 13 days, while the best-performing Hollywood movie during the week was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.

The latest installment in Lionsgate's YA film franchise, which took nearly $10 million in its opening day in China, added another $4.03 million for a cume of $35.97 million after 15 days.

The movie was still showing widely, with 61,043 screenings and 666,782 admissions.

Boonie Bears: Mystical Winter, the second installment of the popular domestically produced franchise, rounded out the top 10, adding $3.82 million for a gross of $44 million after 24 days.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan