Film off to strong start in China

HONG KONG — “Three Kingdoms – Resurrection of the Dragon,” the latest Chinese-themed, pan-Asian co-production, got off to a strong start in theaters across the region.

Unconfirmed distributor estimates have the pic grossing RMB40 million ($5.7 million) in a Thursday-Sunday period in China. Befitting its star cast – which includes Andy Lau, Sammo Hung and Maggie Q – pic was given a wide release by private sector distributor Poly Bona, but exact screen count and per screen average were unavailable Monday. However gross figure will likely put pic among the top ten Chinese films of the year in the increasingly weighty territory.

Weekend included the Ching Ming holiday, which fell on Friday. Festival, when folks traditionally pay respect to their ancestors, is most observed in Hong Kong and only became an official holiday in mainland China for the first time this year. But it is not clear whether people took opportunity to go to the cinema or engage in the traditional activity of grave-sweeping. Initial estimates show $1.29 take on Thursday and $1.43 million Friday.

In Hong Kong, the pic grossed a good HK$8.77 million ($1.13 million) over the Thursday-Sunday period, from 45 screens in a release handled by co-producer Sundream Entertainment. Per screen average was $25,000.

Estimates point to a satisfactory, but not stellar, score in Korea. Admissions count exceeded 350,000 in the four day weekend, pointing to a gross of $2.45 million, calculated using a $7 average ticket price. Pic was taken out on 378 screens by Lotte Entertainment on behalf of the pic’s major financier and co-producer Taewon Entrertainment.

Handled by Innoform Media and Shaw Organisation (sic), “Kingdoms” opened in top spot with a S$595,000 gross ($431,000) from 27 screens. That put it comfortably ahead of benchmark pic and fellow Lau-starring period battle movie, “A Battle of Wits,” which took $237,000 in 2006. Screen average was $16,000.

The pic was also released in Taiwan, but figures were not available Monday.

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