China Box Office: 'Hello Mr Billionaire' Opens at No.1 With Stellar $131 Million

'Hello Mr Billionaire'

Loosely based on the 1985 Richard Pryor film 'Brewster's Millions,' the comedy outperformed Tsui Hark's 'Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings.'

Despite the Chinese government's official disdain of profligate spending and obscene displays of wealth, Hello Mr Billionaire, a comedy loosely based on the 1985 Richard Pryor film Brewster's Millions, dominated the box office in China this weekend with a stellar $130.77 million opening. 

With Mission Impossible: Fallout still to secure a China release date, Chinese audiences have been flocking this week to see the comedy from the directing duo behind 2015's $228 million-grossing comedy hit Goodbye Mr Loser, Yan Fei and Peng Damo.  

Hello Mr Billionaire tells the story of an underachieving soccer player's attempt to reasonably spend 1 billion yuan ($147 million) in a month as a condition of inheriting the 30 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) assets of his late Taiwanese uncle. The audience lapped up the farce, earning the film $47 million on Saturday alone, and a 9.3/10 score by moviegoers on the ticketing platform Maoyan. Reviewers on aggregator Douban were more reserved, with some slamming the "class clash" in the film and others applauding the comedic elements and the performance of lead Shen Teng, earning the comedy an average rating of 6.9/10.

Brewster's Millions was itself based on the 1902 book of the same name by American author George Barr McCutcheon and Hello Mr Billionaire becomes the 13th cinematic adaptation. 

Hello Mr Billionaire's impressive $131 million three-day takings more than tripled the performance of second-placed Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings, which took $43 million.

Legendary filmmaker Tsui Hark's third installment in his Detective Dee franchise, The Four Heavenly Kings was a continuation of the Young Detective Dee story, with Mark Chao reprising the title role. Although its opening weekend take did not allow the film to claim the top spot, The Four Heavenly Kings surpassed the box office of the previous two episodes in the franchise, Mystery of the Phantom Flame, which grossed $51.7 million in 2010, and Rise of the Sea Dragon, with $88.1 million in 2013. Nevertheless, the film earned mixed reviews on Douban, scoring an aggravated rating of 6.7/10, with Tsui's signature fantasy style and the 3D visual effects garnering the most praise.

In third place was Dwayne Johnson's Skyscraper, which grossed $37.5 million for the second week of its release, for a cume of $85.7 million. Chinese social drama and box-office phenomenon Dying to Survive grabbed another $20.4 million. Dying to Survive now has a cume of $444.3 million and is cementing its position as the biggest film of the summer in China so far.

Next Friday will see the debuts of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Taxi 5. Neither franchise has had previous installments released theatrically in China.