China Box Office: 'The Martian' Wins Weekend, but 'Point Break' Gathers Pace

The Martian Still - H 2015
Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

The Martian 

Particularly strong word of mouth among Chinese moviegoers helped the Ridley Scott space epic maintain its edge over a wave of new releases.

In its second week in Chinese cinemas, Ridley Scott's The Martian maintained its grip on the top of the local box office, despite fresh competition from fellow Hollywood imports Point Break and The SpongeBob Movie, along with four new Chinese releases.

The Martian slipped 60 percent in its second weekend, adding $13.7 million for a 12-day cumulative gross of $76.17 million, according to data from EntGroup. The film has been thoroughly embraced by Chinese moviegoers, attracting the highest ratings of any Hollywood import in the latter half of 2015, according to leading review sites Douban and MTime (8.4 and 8.1, respectively; Spectre, which capped out at $84.4 million after its $48 million bow, scored review averages of 6.2 and 6.9, respectively). Chinese story elements and an abiding local love of sci-fi only added to the many fine qualities that have made the movie a global hit, with a worldwide gross of $573 million to date.

After a much-hyped Beijing world premiere last Wednesday — releasing in China a record three weeks ahead of North America — Point Break debuted a step behind The Martian, earning $12.1 million in its first three days, according to studio figures. Co-producers DMG Entertainment and Alcon Entertainment are likely hoping the pic can build on its solid but unexceptional start after Matt Damon and the red planet fade from view. China-based DMG has been heavily promoting the $120 million-budgeted remake's extreme stunts, and Point Break will be the only effects-heavy Hollywood import in Chinese cinemas until January (China's movie regulators impose a blackout on foreign film imports throughout the year-end holiday period, one of the country's busiest moviegoing seasons). The movie won't face any real competition in its category until Chinese fantasy adventure flick Mojin — The Lost Legend opens on Dec. 18.

By Monday, Point Break had already climbed ahead of The Martian, grossing $2.14 million from 27,141 screenings over the space epic's $1.45 million from 19,037 showings.

Debuting in second place for the full week but third for the weekend behind Point Break, Chinese romantic drama Fall in Love Like a Star opened to $11.24 million, pushing its current four-day cume to $15.54 million. Directed by rom-com regular Tony Chan (Bride Wars, Love in Space, Hot Summer Days), the film stars Yi Feng Li as a superstar musician who falls in love with his manager, played by Mi Yang, forcing the heartthrobs to choose between career and true love.

In fourth for the full week, Taiwanese teen romance Our Times added $11.06 million over the past seven days, hitting an 18-day total of $51.98 million. The movie, from first-time writer-director Dorothy Chen, continues to extend its record as the highest-grossing Taiwanese movie of all time in mainland China.

Opening Friday, local comedy sci-fi Impossible, starring A-lister Baoqiang Wang, debuted in fifth with $8.52 million.

The third new Chinese contender, Oh My God, ranked sixth in the weekly charts, grossing $6.25 million. Produced by Zhang Ziyi, the romantic comedy — about a supernatural alien baby that enters the lives of two young couples — has been savaged by online reviewers.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water struggled over its opening six days, earning just $5.21, a desultory contribution from the world's second-biggest film market to the Nickelodeon title's $316 million global gross.

Noir thriller The Vanished Murderer pulled in $4.55 million for eighth place, lifting its cume to $10.88 million over 10 days. The film got a rocky release last month when producer LeTV, an Internet company turned technology maker and production house, announced a special online screening of the movie for owners of the company's flagship Super 3-D television sets — the night before the theatrical premiere. Theater owners were up in arms, saying the stunt was a harmful precedent to set for the nascent Chinese film industry. LeTV eventually relented and canceled the promotional streaming plans.

Contemporary office drama Go Lala Go 2 was the loser of the local rom-com release crunch, opening to $4.15 million for ninth place.

Chinese-Korean comedy action flick Bad Guys Always Die rounded out the bottom of the list, raking in $2.42 million for a $7.35 million 10-day cume.