China Box Office: 'The Expendables 3' Flexes Its Muscles to Top Charts

The Expendables 3 Still - H 2014

The Expendables 3 Still - H 2014

The action movie shrugs off piracy woes in the world's second-biggest movie market

Sylvester Stallone’sThe Expendables 3 topped the Chinese box-office charts in what was a slow week in the world’s second-biggest film market, taking $33.68 million in its first week.

Lionsgate and Millennium's aging action-hero movie suffered from piracy and franchise fatigue in North America, but in China it has been widely marketed and got 231,836 screenings and 6.29 million admissions in its first week, according to data from Entgroup.

The movie is backed by Chinese group Le Vision Pictures, and Jason Statham visited China to promote the film, giving it a high profile.

The movie was widely pirated internationally, but that possibly had less of an impact in China than in other markets, because even though piracy is rampant, many people will go to see a movie in a cinema anyway, thanks in part to enhanced formats like 3D or Imax.

While the week to Sept. 7 was slow, things are expected to pick up at the box office during the Moon Festival holiday.

Behind the action flick, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which has done well across many markets, ran up another $27.02 million in its first full week to bring its total to $74.33 million after 10 days of release in China.

The sequel notched up 201,533 screenings and 4.54 million admissions during the week ending Sept. 7, data from research group Entgroup showed.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes now trails Iron Man 3, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and all-time leader Transformers: Age of Extinction on the list of China’s best-performing movies ever.

Local romance But Always, featuring Nicholas Tse and Gao Yuanyuan, earned $7 million behind that, while DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2 was in fourth place, adding another $800,000 million to bring its total to $64.27 million.

Gordon Chan’s kung-fu epic The Four 3 took $670,000 to bring its cume to $31 million. The Hong Kong director’s film stars Chao DengLiu Yifei, Ronald Cheng, Collin Chou and Anthony Wong.

Behind that in sixth place was Temporary Family, which earned $460,000 to bring its gross to $16.28 million. Cheuk Wan-chi’s Hong Kong real estate drama stars Nick Cheung Ka-fai, Sammi Cheng Sau-man and Angelababy.

Filling out the rest of the top 10 were Tale of the Rally, with $430,000, Delhi Safari, Metegol and Under the Bed 2.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan