China Box Office: Final 'Hobbit' Film Debuts in Top Spot

Warner Bros.

'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' is the latest U.S. movie to capture the imagination of Chinese moviegoers, although domestic fare continues to be strong.

Middle-earth ruled the box office in the Middle Kingdom as Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies crushed all the opposition, raking in $49.84 million in its opening three days in China.

The final installment of the trilogy had 151,806 screenings and 7.8 million admissions in the world's second-biggest film market and has now grossed more than $600 million overseas. Five Armies is the latest Hollywood 3D tentpole to do massive business in China, where moviegoing is flourishing thanks to an exploding middle class. Last year, Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction took $90 million in its opening weekend from 166,446 screenings, with 14.7 million admissions.

In second place, Taiwanese director Chen Zhengdao's galloping-grandma movie Miss Granny took another $12.24 million to bring its gross to $51.69 million after 18 days. A remake of the Korean comedy of the same name, Miss Granny had 151,158 screenings and 2.4 million admissions during the week ending Jan. 25, according to data from research group Entgroup.

The movie tells of the antics of a 70-year-old grandmother who is transformed into a 20-year-old woman, and it features Lu Han, formerly a member of the South Korean-Chinese boy band EXO.

Behind that was the Jeff Bridges-Julianne Moore fantasy epic Seventh Son, which took $9.66 million in its first full week for a gross of $25.81 million after 10 days, with 178,933 screenings and 1.63 million admissions. Distributed worldwide by Universal, Seventh Son is not due to open in the U.S. until Feb. 6, but the Sergei Bodrov-directed movie has done good business in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Seventh Son, in which Bridges plays a mentor to a young man (Ben Barnes) turned warrior, has an investment by China's state film colossus China Film Group, while Thomas Tull's Legendary Entertainment has also linked up with Locojoy, a Chinese mobile gaming company, to promote a game version.

In fourth place was the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which took another $6.26 million to bring its total to $48.62 million after 22 days in release in China. Fox's family film had 94,318 screenings and 1.22 million admissions.

Behind that in fifth place was Tsui Hark’s 3D epic The Taking of Tiger Mountain. It added $3.62 million to lift its cume to $139.18 million.

Romantic thriller The Unbearable Lightness of Inspector Fan took another $1.44 million in its first full week for a cume of $3.74 million, followed by the 3D rerelease of Stephen Chow's 20-year-old classic film Kung Fu Hustle, which took another $1.1 million for a cume of $3.97 million.

In eighth place was the war movie Lotus Code, which added $1.02 million for a cume of $2.73 million.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan