China Box Office: Local Title 'Continent' Bows at $47 Million as 'Transformers' Exits on $317 Million High

Courtesy of Laurel Films/Guomai Culture and Media/Bona Film Group
"The Continent"

The directorial debut by popular novelist and racecar driver Han Han heads for $50 million at its launch, knocking 'Tiny Times 3.0' off the top perch.

The Continent, a nostalgic road movie by the popular young Chinese novelist, heartthrob and blogger Han Han, has taken $47 million in its opening weekend in China, knocking Tiny Times 3.0, by another youthful Chinese director and writer, Guo Jingming, off the top of the charts.

Domestic movies ran in solid numbers during a period when Hollywood movies are cleared from the schedules to make way for homegrown fare, but the success of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which has now ended its run in China as the first movie to pass the $300-million threshold there, highlighted the absence of a big Chinese production to fill seats.

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The Continent took $46.87 million in its first four days, with 171,269 screenings and 9.1 million admissions, according to data from the research group Entgroup.

The movie features Feng Shaofeng and Chen Bolin, and it took over $11 million in its opening day.

The film tells the tale of three childhood friends who go on a road trip to find themselves and meet an assortment of characters en route. The trailer was downloaded five million times when it was launched back in May.

Both Han Han and Guo Jingming are youth culture icons, and both write about, and are beloved of, teenage girls, but there are keen differences between the two. They share success as novelists and, now, as filmmakers, but Han Han, with his rally car driving and boy-band good looks, is a hero of the youth counterculture and has been critical of government policy in the past.

Guo’s work is more reflective of the rise in consumer culture in China, evidenced by the vast array of brand names in evidence in the Tiny Times franchise.

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In second place in the week to July 27 was Raymond Yip’s The House That Never Dies, a 3D ghost story about a haunted house on Chaoyangmen Inner Street in downtown Beijing that has supposedly been haunted since the Communist Revolution in 1949.

The House That Never Dies, featuring Francis Ng, Ruby Lin, Tony Yang, Monica Mok, Amanda Qin and Li Jing, took another $27 million for a cume of $52.7 million after 10 days, with 175,497 screenings and 4.8 million admissions.

The film has inspired hordes of Beijingers to make the trek to Chaoyangmen Inner Streetm where the notorious Chaonei No. 81 building stands.

Tiny Times 3.0 took $24.73 million for a cume of $75.49 million after 11 days.

Based on Guo’s best-selling novels of the same name, Tiny Times 3.0 tells of the lives, loves and burgeoning careers of four girls from differing backgrounds living in luxury dormitories and obsessing over branded products.

The latest film in the tween franchise had more screenings than The House That Never Dies at 199,126 and roughly the same number of admissions at 4.8 million, the data shows.

The movie is co-produced by Huace Film Corporation and Heli Chenguang International Cultural Media Corporation, as well as LeTV, Dragon TV, Ruyi Xinxin Culture Development Corp and others.

In fourth place stood the colossal Transformers: Age of Extinction, which ended its 31-day run in China with a staggering cume of $317 million, according to Entgroup.

The movie has changed the landscape in China and was still going strong after 31 days, with 60,585 screenings and 1.87 million admissions in the week.

Behind that was the domestic animated feature The Magical Brush, with $4.72 million, followed in sixth place by Old Boys: The Way of the Dragon.

This sentimental tale of a hapless pair of amateur Chinese musicians called the Chopsticks Brothers began life as a 43-minute micro movie online in 2010 but after 75 million hits became a big-screen feature and has now grossed $32.8 million after 18 days.

The domestic romantic comedy The Breakup Guru took another $2.61 million for a cume of $106.59 million after 31 days. The movie is directed by Yu Baimei and Deng Chao and stars Deng and Yang Mi.

After that in eighth place was Happy Heroes 2 Qiyuan Planet Wars, which took $1.56 million for a total of $4.21 million; Dhoom 3, which took $1.35 million in its opening weekend; and No Zuo No Die, which grossed $700,000.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan