China Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Sequel Wins Slow Week

Richard Foreman Jr./Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials"

Local romantic comedy 'The Ex-Files 2' comes in second as 'Everest' opens in fourth place and 'The Peanuts Movie' in ninth.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials sprang to the front of a slow, crowded pack of new releases at the Chinese box office over the past week. The young-adult sequel, directed by Wes Ball, opened Wednesday in China, grossing $21.54 million through the weekend, according to data from Beijing-based box-office monitor Ent Group.

20th Century Fox's estimate for Scorch Trials' first five days — $19.8 million from 4,902 screens — came in slightly below local tallies. But the smaller figure would still mark a 60 percent increase over the first Maze Runner's Chinese debut, according to Fox.

Opening two days after Scorch Trials, Chinese director Yu-sheng Tian's romantic comedy sequel The Ex-Files 2 premiered Friday and easily won the weekend, earning $17.7 million (Scorch Trials took $14.6 million over the same three days).

The rest of the pack maintained the recent precedent of November being a slow month at China's box office. The previous weekend's winner, local crime thriller The Witness, fell nearly 50 percent, adding $12 million to its 10-day total of $31.2 million.

Universal's hit mountaineering saga Everest opened wide in China on Tuesday and grossed a modest but respectable $11.3 million in its first six days to come in fourth. Director Baltasar Kormakur recently dropped into Beijing to promote Everest after Universal learned some weeks ago that the film would be a lucky late addition to the Chinese release schedule. Universal says it has been pleased with the world-of-mouth buzz the film has generated locally, despite its limited marketing.

The Last Woman Standing — another rom-com set in contemporary urban China, this one starring heartthrobs Shu Qi and Eddie Peng — opened to $6.22 million from Friday to Sunday.

Hotel Transylvania 2 slipped to sixth place from third last week, earning another $3.82 million for a 13-day total of $16.15 million. Marvel's Ant-Man, meanwhile, is winding down its $100 million-plus China run, this week adding just $3.76 million to its $105.75 million cume. 

The Peanuts Movie adaptation did less well for Fox, pulling in just $3.15 million over its opening three days in China to come in eighth for the week. Charles Schulz's iconic characters don't elicit quite as much nostalgia among Chinese audiences as they do elsewhere, due to how closed to foreign media China was throughout the 1960s to the 1980s, during the comic strip's peak in popularity. Opening against fellow Hollywood imports Everest and Maze Runner also didn't help Charlie Brown's prospects (good grief!).

Local comedy blockbuster Goodbye Mr. Loser landed in ninth place with $2.83 million, boosting its massive total to $227 million after 40 days. And in tenth, Chinese art house star Jia Zhangke's meditative Mountains May Depart mustered another $1.49 million, extending its cumulative gross to $4.28 million after 10 days.

Anticipation is building for James Bond's return to China — Spectre opens Thursday (Nov. 12).