China Box Office: Strong Week for Hollywood As ‘Need for Speed’ Takes Pole Position

Need for Speed

A lull between Chinese holiday periods gave a boost to overseas titles.

DreamWorks' new Aaron Paul racing movie Need for Speed zoomed to the top of the box office in the world's second biggest market in its opening three days.

Need for Speed had 94,631 screenings and racked up 3.35 million admissions over the weekend.

In the week leading up to March 16, Need for Speed took $21.09 million, according to data from the research group Entgroup, which is more or less in line with the $21.2 million from DreamWorks.

The $66 million movie, directed by Scott Waugh and adapted from the wildly popular Electronic Arts game, had a sluggish start in North America, but China has been key to giving it throttle overseas, where it took $45.6 million from 40 territories for a worldwide start of $63.4 million.

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It's been another great week for Hollywood in China, as big-name domestic titles hold fire for what is usually a sluggish period between Chinese New Year and the next local holiday, Tomb Sweeping Day, when people honor their ancestors. The occasion actually lasts three days -- during which schools are out -- and takes place at the beginning of April.

Sony's and MGM's rebooted RoboCop, which was converted into 3D specifically for China, edged close to $50 million cume, while Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug held on to third, taking $3.67 million to bring its cume after 22 days to $74.73 million.

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Foreign fare also was in fourth place, as Luc Besson’s Malavita took $3.44 million to bring its cume to  $8.52 million. The movie is the first of a slate of co-pros between EuropaCorp and Mark Gao's Shanghai-based production and sales outfit Fundamental Films. Besson's gangster thriller features Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones.

In fifth place was the Chinese title The Old Cinderella, which was released in China to coincide with International Women's Day earlier this month. The movie -- which was produced by Lu Chuan, directed by Wu Bai and features Zhang Jingchu, Ban Jaijai, Zhu Zhu and Kenji Wu -- took $3.32 million to swell its cumulative total to $8.33 million after 10 days.

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More Hollywood in sixth place, with the Jason Statham action thriller Homefront notching up $3.25 million in its first three days.

The movie, written by Sylvester Stallone and directed by Gary Fleder, had 60,391 screenings and 647,020 admissions, according to Entgroup.

Taiwanese cop caper Sweet Alibis, with Alec Su and Ariel Lin, was in seventh place, with $2.04 million in its first full week to bring its total to $5.7 million after 10 days.

The PETA-friendly animated feature Free Birds, voiced by Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler, was in eighth place, taking $2 million for a total of $6.99 million, while Frozen slipped to ninth place, but also is edging near to $50 million, after it took $1.12 million to bring its gross to $48.24 million.

Jeff Lau’s Lock Me Up, Tie Him Down, with He Jiong, Vivian Hsu, Jiang Mengjie and Wang Xuebing, rounded out the top 10, taking $720,000 for a cume of $4.64 million.