China Box Office: ‘Jade Dynasty’ in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

Rebecca Davis

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With “Jade Dynasty” out front, Chinese action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend, while the few American titles in play have failed to attract many moviegoers.

Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway showed. That was higher than the global total for the much-lauded “Hustlers,” which took $33 million in its opening in North America and $37.7 million worldwide.

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China’s box office this year is running 2.5% behind this point last year, but the past weekend was not too shabby. Artisan Gateway reported a total gross of $111 million between Friday and Sunday, exceeding the $109 million earned at the box office in North America.

Starring Mandopop idol Sean Xiao Zhan, Li Qin (“The Founding of an Army”) and Rocket Girls 101 singer Meng Meiqi, “Jade Dynasty” is directed by Hong Kong’s Tony Ching Siu-tung, best known as an action choreographer for his work on films such as “Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers” and “Shaolin Soccer.” An adaptation of a popular novel that has previously been turned into a video game and TV series, the film tells the story of a young man who becomes a master martial artist and falls in love after his village is destroyed.

Japanese anime title “Detective Conan: The Fist of the Blue Sapphire” took second in its opening weekend, bringing in $22.6 million. The franchise is familiar to Chinese viewers, who turned out for earlier installments last November ($18 million) and in 2016 ($4.4 million).

In third place, Chinese comedy “The Last Wish,” brought in $21 million in its long-awaited debut. It had previously been scheduled to come out earlier in the summer, but the production team announced that it was pulling the film for unspecified “production reasons” just two weeks before its July 18 release. It was subsequently revealed that there was trouble with its Chinese-language title, which initially made use of the word “weida,” or “great” – a term typically reserved only for describing important political matters or Communist Party leaders. Although there had been speculation that the Huayi-invested film wouldn’t come out until after China’s Oct. 1 National Day holiday, it appears that the name change was sufficient to appease censors.

Chinese animation continues to perform strongly. “The Legend of Hei” came in fourth, with $13.1 million, bringing its total earnings to $32.3 million. And despite being in theaters for a whopping 53 days, Chinese animation “Nezha” is still going strong, outstripping “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” for fifth place. The coming-of-age tale of a popular folk deity brought in $8.6 million, bringing its cume to a massive $690 million overall. It is the second-highest-grossing film of all time in China.

Coming off its fourth weekend in theaters, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” ranked sixth in sales by late Monday afternoon. It brought in just $4.56 million (RMB32.3 million) over the weekend, according to data from Maoyan. Nevertheless, its has earned a total of $197 million (RMB1.39 billion) in China so far, outstripping its $168 million U.S. performance.

American alligator horror film “Crawl” came out in China on Thursday, but has failed to make much of a splash. Directed by Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes”), it has grossed just $6.8 million (RMB48.2 million) in China so far and ranked seventh in ticket sales by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Oscar-winning American documentary “Free Solo” continues its China run. It ranked eighth at the China box office by Monday afternoon, and has now grossed $4.5 million (RMB31.8 million) overall, making the Middle Kingdom the film’s most successful foreign territory. It grossed $17.5 million at home last year.

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