China Box Office: Local Thriller 'Animal World' Dethrones 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'

ANIMAL WORLD Still 1 -Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Shanghai International Film Festival

It was a competitive weekend at the world's second-biggest film market, with both Hollywood holdovers and Chinese new releases pulling in substantial earnings.

Chinese thriller Animal World officially kicked off the summer blockbuster season in the world's second-biggest film market over the weekend, opening to $38.2 million and topping the China box-office champion of the preceding two weeks, Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

The youth-oriented action film is based on a popular Japanese manga and stars Li Yifeng as a young man who is induced into taking part in a violent game of chance overseen by an archvillain, played by Michael Douglas. Directed by rising talent Han Yan (Go Away Mr Tumor) and produced by Enlight Media, Animal World was boosted by strong word of mouth, scoring 8.7/10 from ticketing app Maoyan and 7.4/10 from Douban, the more fickle reviews aggregator.

Still packing some bite, Fallen Kingdom pulled in $14.7 million in its third frame, boosting its 17-day total to a healthy $232 million, according to numbers from Beijing-based EntGroup. The J. A. Bayona-directed sequel has now eclipsed the $228.7 million total of the first Jurassic World film in China. 

Escape Plan 2: Hades, co-financed and produced by Lionsgate and China's Leomus Pictures launched in third place, thanks to a solid Friday start of $5.3 million. But the film was quickly savaged by critics and fan reviewers and slid down the charts, totaling just $10.7 million for the full weekend. Sylvester Stallone and Dave Bautista star in the sequel, alongside Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming. The increased Chinese involvement was a response to the $40.9 million the first Escape Plan movie earned in China back in 2013 — considerably more than the $25.1 million the movie brought in domestically. The sequel stands little chance of matching its predecessor, however.

Disney's and Pixar's The Incredibles 2 came in just a step behind in fourth place, adding $10.1 million for a two-weekend total of $40.4 million.

Chinese comedy maestro Xu Zheng's hotly anticipated comedy-drama Dying to Survive also burst onto the Chinese charts thanks to just two days of limited previews Saturday and Sunday. The sneak peeks pulled in a whopping $7.6 million ahead of the film's official opening Friday, July 6. Already, word of mouth for the movie, which is produced by Xu's fellow hitmaker and former collaborator Ning Hao (Crazy Stone), is effusive. The film is loosely based on the true story of a Chinese leukemia patient who smuggled unapproved drugs from India in order to get affordably priced medicine for himself and 1,000 others. Local fans are touting the film as China's answer to Dallas Buyers Club, and saying their version is worthy of similar Oscar consideration. The film has a sky-high score of 9.6/10 on Maoyan.

Further down the charts, the rerelease of Wong Kar-Wai's Days of Beijing Wild (2004), added just over $600,000 in its second weekend. After two frames, the Hong Kong classic has earned $2.1 million in Mainland China. That's considerably less than the $9.8 million the Asian art house classic earned during its original Hong Kong run, but not at all bad for a 14-year-old rerelease in a market traditionally known for its blockbuster leanings.