China Box Office: Road Trip Comedy 'Breakup Buddies' Packs Them In

China embraces risqué Ning Hao movie during National Day holiday

Mandarin-language movies dominated the Chinese box office in a week that included the patriotic National Day holiday, with Ning Hao's raunchy road trip comedy Breakup Buddies racing ahead.

After six days on release, the movie has taken $94.33 million (579 million yuan), with 16.75 million admissions and 284,909 screenings, according to calculations by the research body Entgroup for the week ending Oct. 5.

It showed on nearly 40 percent of all screens in China and had an opening weekend take of $38 million.

The tale of a recently divorced man and his best friend who set off on a series of misadventures, Breakup Buddies reunites actors Xu Zheng and Huang Bo in their first movie together since megahit Lost in Thailand, which grossed nearly $200 million in China in 2012.

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Ning is seen as one of the directors who will feed China's need for content to show on the country's burgeoning number of screens.

This will have helped get Breakup Buddies' edgy subject matter past the censors. The movie features promiscuous losers, tender lesbians, angry prostitutes and mean small-town gangsters, the kind of characters that don't normally win favor at the Film Bureau.

With a week that included a holiday celebrating the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, it was perhaps no surprise that Chinese-language movies should notch up a strong performance at the box office.

Foreign movies generally have to make way for domestic fare at this time of year, which is a "Golden Week" holiday and a prime cinemagoing period.

In second place was the Taiwanese cop actioner Black & White: The Dawn of Justice, which took $20.12 million in its first five days. The movie had 112,514 screenings and chalked up 3.29 million admissions.

Read more International Box Office: Chinese Comedy 'Breakup Buddies' Tops Chart With $38M

The second instalment in Tsai Yueh-Hsun's action franchise after 2012's Black and White: The Dawn of Assault, Black & White 2 ramps up the firepower and features tech input from international VFX and 3D companies.

Mark Chao and Lin Gengxin star as a tough cop duo, with Chinese comedian Huang Bo, Ning Chang, Christopher Lee and Chieh-kai Shiou.

In third place was Hong Kong director Peter Ho-sun Chan's Dearest, a child kidnapping drama based on a true story, which added another $19.23 million for a cume of $35.45 million after 11 days on release.

Dearest had 134,870 screenings and 3.48 million admissions. It features Zhao Wei, Tong Dawei, Huang Bo and Hao Lei.

With the schools on holiday, it was a big week for toons.

In fourth place was the sci-fi animated feature Armor Hero Atlas, directed by Zheng Guowei, which opened on Oct. 1 and earned $4.78 million, followed in fifth place by the latest episode in the McDull animated pig franchise, McDull: Me & My Mom, which notched up $4.56 million.

Behind that was Hong Kong director Ann Hui's historical epic The Golden Era, which also opened on Oct. 1 and took $4.35 million in its first five days.

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The Golden Era (Huang jin shi dai) features Tang Wei and is set against the backdrop of 1930s China.

The movie, its director and its star have all been nominated for November’s Golden Horse Awards, generally considered to be Asia's equivalent of the Oscars.

He Cheng's animated feature Xin DaTou Er Zi He Xiao Tou Ba Ba Zhi Mi Mi Ji Hua added another $2.9 million to bring its haul to $4.88 million.

More toons were behind that – Kuiba III and Farmhouse 81 II. The only foreign movie in the top 10 was StudioCanal's Non-Stop, in last place, adding $1.64 million to bring its total to $16.65 million after 17 days.

Hollywood will be back in the mix after the holiday period, with Guardians of the Galaxy due to be released on Oct. 10. Other big Hollywood titles set to open before year's end include The Maze Runner, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Hercules.

Having taken over $320 million in China, Transformers: Age of Extinction will have done much to skew the full-year box office figures in Hollywood's favor this year, but there are some domestic heavy hitters still to come which could ultimately shade the split China's way.

A big Chinese contender coming up is Jiang Wen's 3D epic Gone With the Bullets, a sequel to 2010's wildly successful Let the Bullets Fly, which is due to open in early December.

Other big Chinese titles coming in December are John Woo's romantic epic The Crossing and Tsui Hark’s 3D epic The Taking of Tiger Mountain.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan