China Box Office: 'Godzilla' Rules, 'Maleficent' Opens Strong in Massive Week for Hollywood

Disney Enterprises, Inc.

"Maleficent" took in a healthy $22 million, but some observers are wondering whether Angelina Jolie’s recent comment regarding the political sovereignty of Taiwan might have kept some mainland Chinese viewers away.

As expected, June is turning out to be a mighty month for Hollywood in China, with four U.S. movies dominating the box office in the week to June 22.

However, there was also a sense of expectation, with Transformers: Age of Extinction due to open on June 27 and reckoned to lay waste to all rivals like a Decepticon with a fresh battery charge, possibly even challenging Avatar’s $221.9 million box-office record here.

PHOTOS Beijing Film Fest Brings Out Chinese, Hollywood Stars

For the time being, a different monster prevails. Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla continued to boss the box office in China, taking $31.77 million in its first full week in the country, according to data from the research group Entgroup, with the Gareth Edwards-directed movie posting a cume of $69.07 million from 241,105 screenings and 5.2 million admissions.

Angelina Jolie’s visit to Shanghai with Brad Pitt and family reaped dividends, with Maleficent taking in $22.01 million its first three days, clocking up 100,540 screenings and 3.64 million admissions.

Although difficult to quantify, some are questioning whether the film might have performed even better at the box office had Jolie not identified director Ang Lee as being from "self-ruled Taiwan" in comments made while in China.

PHOTOS Johnny Depp's First Trip to China

Her statement was entirely accurate — Taiwan has been self-ruled since the Nationalists fled there in 1949 after the Communists defeated them in the civil war. But it's a sensitive issue that easily raises the hackles of mainland Chinese webizens, who see the island across the strait as a renegade province, to be taken back by force if necessary. Negative buzz on social media is known to exert a powerful influence on Chinese consumers. 

But apart from the fleeting political episode, Jolie thoroughly charmed Shanghai during her visit, sharing her birthday cake with a crowd and making several glittering media presentations, while husband Brad Pitt took the kids for lessons in making dim sum.

Maleficent’s opening compares favorably to, say, the opening for the rebooted RoboCop, which took in $21.44 million back in March, or the $24.67 million that Edge of Tomorrow earned, but it is a lot less than the $37 million of Godzilla’s opening.

Tom Cruise’s took third place over the past week, with $11.29 million, to bring its cume after 17 days to $61.95 million.

PHOTOS Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning Glow at the 'Maleficent' Premiere in L.A.

Behind that was Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past, adding another $2.09 million to its cume for a total of $116.49 million. The latest X-Men can still claim the biggest Hollywood opening of the year with $39.35 million, just ahead of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which took in $39.23 million in its first three days.

Grace of Monaco, which was launched by Nicole Kidman at the Shanghai International Film Festival, took in $2.02 million in its opening three days. It had 32,520 screenings, and 380,220 admissions.

Hong Kong crime thriller Overheard 3 was behind that, taking in $1,82 million to bring its cume to $49.29 million, while the domestic horror movie Midnight Hair added $1.04 million to give a cume of $1.89 million in its first full week.

In eighth place was the local romantic comedy Night of Adventure, which took in another $610,000 to bring its cume to $4.24 million, followed by the thriller Night Mail, which took in $520,000 in its opening weekend.

The Til Schweiger thriller The Guardians took in $460,000 in its first full week for a cume of $940,000.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan