China Box Office: 'Pacific Rim' Still Rules as Domestic Film Push Starts

Warner Bros. Pictures
"Pacific Rim" continues to dominate the Chinese box office.

A shortened foreign-film blackout period, to put the spotlight on homegrown fare, is expected this year.

Pacific Rim continued to build on its stellar start in China this week as Guillermo del Toro's movie held off stiff competition from the urban romantic comedy Tiny Times to retain the top spot in the box-office rankings.

Figures from research group Entgroup for Monday, Aug. 5, thru Sunday show that Pacific Rim made $33.9 million (207.64 million yuan), while Tiny Times took in $27.2 million (166.18 million yuan).

Pacific Rim's opening-day gross of $9 million last week marked the biggest for any Warner Bros. movie in China.

Fast & Furious 6 took another $8.1 million (49.65 million yuan), One Night Surprise $7.4 million (45.32 million yuan), and I Love Wolffy 2 brought in $3.49 million (21.41 million yuan).

As one industry figure described it, there is a "semi-blackout … a squeeze game to reduce foreign-film box office" in China starting right now, with domestic movies expected to dominate for the next two weeks.

This is not as long a blackout as in previous years -- last year it went on for two whole months -- and there are some major overseas titles looming, including Monsters University, which debuts on Aug. 23, Jurassic Park 3D on Aug. 24, and The Great Gatsby on Aug. 30.

The Chinese government is engaged in a delicate balancing act right now as it tries to encourage the growth of the domestic business while meeting its increased commitments to allowing more foreign movies into what is now the world's second-biggest film market.

The box-office revenue of domestic movies in China has overtaken that of foreign films in the first half of 2013, which will have given a major boost of confidence to the Chinese movie industry.

According to Entgroup, in the first half of the year, 146 films were screened in China, and 117 of these were domestic productions. Domestic film revenue was up 124 percent over the same period last year.

There are 12 domestic movies lined up to screen this month, and five of them are going head-to-head on Tuesday during Qixi, variously understood as the Double Seventh Festival or the Magpie Festival, but basically China's Valentine's Day. They include Tiny Times II, The Palace, One Night Surprise, Gao Qunshu's thriller Crimes of Passion and Saving Mother Robot.