Jackson's monkey movie new B.O. champ

The Year of the Dog may be here, but for theaters in mainland China, it’s the year of the ape.

“King Kong,” released Jan. 15 in time for the Chinese New Year holiday, which began Jan. 28, has taken $9.94 million as of Feb. 5.

Peter Jackson’s monkey movie has proven especially popular with femmes, according to Jiang Wei from New Century Cinema.

Ronny Yu’s “Fearless,” which stars Jet Li and opened just two days before Chinese New Year, was performing strongly and had already taken $8.45 million, the Beijing Times reported.

Going to the movies is fast becoming a tradition at Chinese New Year, as figures from Beijing show that B.O. during the Spring Festival holidays doubled compared to last year.

New Film Assn., a large Beijing-based distributor and exhibitor, said its chain of cinemas did $1.18 million over the holiday compared to $514,286 last year.

In a stark illustration of how much China is changing, cinema staffers were recalled early from vacation to cope with strong demand.

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