China Box Office Sets Single-Day Record of $41 Million, Driven by Local Films

The Monkey King Chinese Poster P

Fantasy epic "The Monkey King" and reality TV adaptation "Dad, Where Are We Going?" both opened huge during the Lunar New Year holiday, while Disney's "Frozen" is expected to make a strong bow Wednesday.

Just a few days into the Year of the Horse, the Chinese box office is already galloping full steam ahead. The first day of the Lunar New Year holiday was a record-breaking one, as box-office sales across China totaled $41 million, beating the single-day record of $34 million set last year on Valentine's Day.

By Feb. 3, after four days on release, Hong Kong director Poi Soi Cheang's 3D fantasy epic The Monkey King racked up $64.35 million (389.97 million yuan), while Dad, Where Are We Going? took $50.97 million (308.91 million yuan) over the same period.

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China is the second-largest global movie market, but it's an absolute world-beater during the Lunar New Year holiday, when millions of Chinese pack the country's new multiplexes to watch the latest cinematic offerings.

The box-office bonanza should continue through the holiday, which officially ends on Feb. 14, especially once Disney's Frozen makes its widely anticipated debut on Feb. 5.

Box-office data is hard to acquire during the holiday, as most businesses and government offices are closed, but the figures are based on cumulative revenue from Entgroup.

Official box-office data for 2013 showed sales of $3.6 billion, with domestic movies taking $2.12 billion of that, a rise of 54.3 percent for homegrown films.

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There is a seemingly endless appetite for adaptations of Wu Chen-en's classic Journey to the West tales -- Stephen Chow's Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, which also deals with the Monkey King legend, was the most popular film in China in 2013.

The latest installment, The Monkey King, grossed a muscular $46 million in its opening weekend, the global leader over the weekend, and continued this strong performance early into the Lunar New Year, which is a horse year according to the Chinese zodiac.

Dad, Where Are We Going? opened to $34 million to place number two on the weekend global chart. The movie is based on a reality TV show about the relationships between celebrity fathers and their children, from a Korean format. The show was a huge hit in China last year.

According to the People's Daily newspaper, the film broke the record for a single day's earnings for a 2D Chinese-language movie.

Wong Jing's The Man From Macau, featuring Hong Kong legend Chow Yun-fat, has taken $15.51 million (94.02 million yuan) so far over the holiday. It debuted to $12.5 million.

The movie is the latest installment in the God of Gamblers series, featuring the Hong Kong tough guy actor as the maverick player Ko Chun, with his signature jade pinky ring

Huayi Brothers' romantic comedy Ace in the Hole notched up $4.38 million (26.53 million yuan) over the holiday, while the Finnish reindeer movie Niko 2: Lentäjäveljekset had a cume of $1.43 million (8.69 million yuan) over two days.