China Box Office: 'Need for Speed' Races to $60 Million

Aaron Paul should be happy with his China haul.

Tapping into China's burgeoning enthusiasm for driving, the Dreamworks film starring Aaron Paul is performing far better in the world's number two movie market than it is back home.

DreamWorks’ Need for Speed, starring Aaron Paul, took another $13.86 million at the China box office over the past week for a cumulative total of $59.56 million, shrugging off a sluggish haul back home. As of Sunday, Need for Speed had grossed just $37 million in North America. 

The high-octane race movie easily faced down the challenge of Dreamworks’ Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which took $7.86 million in its opening three days (compare this to the $17.38 million Frozen took when it opened in China).

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Car culture has powerful appeal in contemporary China. During the past two decades of rapid development in the country, car ownership and weekend driving has come to be seen as a potent symbol of one's ascension into the new middle class. 

Diao Yinan’s Golden Bear-winning Black Coal, Thin Ice took $6.65 million in its first full week, to bring its cume to $13.4 million, an eminently respectable performance for an arthouse piece, even given its noir elements.

This is a fairly slow period at the box office in China, although it is expected to pick up toward the end of the week with the Qingming, or "Tomb-Sweeping" holiday, during which people honor their ancestors. Schools and offices are closed, and many take the opportunity to go to the movies.

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George Clooney’s The Monuments Men took $4.96 million in its opening three days, just ahead of domestic movie Fighting, according to data from the research group Entgroup.

Fighting took $6.44 million in its opening weekend amid controversy over the pre-sale of tickets, but it appears to have held its own at the box office, taking another $4.21 million in its first full week for a cume after 10 days of $10.69 million.

Slipping to sixth place was Horse Trader, which took $4.03 million for a cume of $8.81 million after its first 10 days, while the South Korean action film Snowpiercer was in sixth place, with a cume of $11.11 million after two weeks in cinemas.

In eighth place was Last Flight, which took another $2.36 million for a cume of $5.41 million after 10 days,

On the Way, a Chinese-South Korean romantic comedy which pairs Chinese actress Huang Shengyi with South Korea’s Ji Jin-hee, was in ninth place after its opening weekend, during which it took $1.86 million, while the Spanish animated feature Justin and the Knights of Valour was in 10th place, taking $1.38 million in its opening weekend.