China Box Office: 'Passengers' Rockets to First, 'Rogue One' Sputters

Jaimie Trueblood/Columbia Pictures

The Sony romantic sci-fi opened to $17.5 million, easily topping the 'Star Wars' spinoff, which declined 71 percent in its second weekend.

Sony's Passengers, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, easily won the weekend box office in China, blasting past a rapidly decelerating Rogue One.

The sci-fi romance opened to $5.3 million Friday and totaled $17.5 million for the weekend, according to Beijing box-office tracker Ent Group.

The film was the first Sony release in China since the company signed a strategic marketing agreement with Beijing-based entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in September. Pratt and Lawrence are both fan favorites in China, thanks to the local popularity of their respective hits (Pratt's Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World and Lawrence's Hunger Games and X-Men franchises).

Rogue One, meanwhile, took a sharp dive in its second weekend, earning $9.8 million from Friday to Sunday according to Disney's estimate ($9 million according to Ent Group), a 71 percent fall from its $31 million opening. After 10 days in China, the Luscasfilm and Disney blockbuster has earned $52.8 million in the Middle Kingdom.

The Chinese audience's relative lack of enthusiasm for the Star Wars franchise remains striking. Force Awakens earned a respectable $124.2 million in China, but that was just the 13th biggest performance of the year in the country, and far far away from the outright domination the movie achieved in other major markets. It was natural to think that Rogue One might fare a little better, given that Disney cast two of the country's biggest stars, Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, in prominent roles. No such luck.

Rom-com holdover Some Like It Hot came in third, adding $7.5 million for a 17-day total of $11.7 million. And local animation Backkom Bea: Agent 008 opened to $5.9 million, beating Laika's 3D stop-motion Kubo and the Two Strings, which debuted with $3 million. 

The Chinese New Year holiday period begins Jan. 27 and concludes Feb. 2 this year. China's film regulators usually block imported titles from the market during the lucrative moviegoing holiday window, giving domestic films a boost.

The last Hollywood film to open before the break will be Paramount's Arrival on Jan. 20.