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China likes ‘Millionaire’

Asia markets get leashed to 'Slumdog'

“Slumdog Millionaire” is finishing up its worldwide tour with impressive showings in Japan and China, with censors in the latter clearing the film and allowing it to become one of the few Western pics released there.

Through Sunday, “Slumdog’s” global B.O. tally was $329.1 million. Film has grossed $141 million domestically and $188.1 million overseas.

“Slumdog” posted an opening weekend of roughly $2.2 million when debuting in China over the March 27-29 weekend. The gross has yet to be updated by the China Film Group Corp.

That’s on par with opening weekend numbers for B.O. successes including “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” ($2.3 million), “Wanted” ($3.2 million) and “The Incredible Hulk” ($3.4 million).

A mega-opening in China means bowing in the $10 million-$12 million range. John Woo’s “Red Cliff 2” set a record in January, bowing to $14.8 million. “Transformers” was the previous record-holder at $12.7 million.

No more than 20 foreign films are allowed into China each year by the China Film Group. Hollywood franchise titles are heavily favored.

In a statement to the press, China Film Group Corp. spokesman Weng Li said “Slumdog’s” artistic value was proved by its multiple Oscar wins and the movie’s themes were “positive and inspirational.”

“Slumdog” launched in Japan last weekend, earning a dazzling $1.2 million from 116 screens, with exhibitors reporting sold-out shows.

Some exhibs say Japanese auds are more Oscar conscious than ever thanks to “Departures,” the Japanese pic that won the Academy Award for foreign-language film. Also, the underdog-makes-good storyline is a perennial favorite with auds in Japan.

Distrib Gaga Communications is predicting that “Slumdog” will gross north of $10 million.

After North America, “Slumdog” has grossed the most in the U.K. ($46.8 million), followed by France ($20.2 million), Australia ($14.5 million), Spain ($13.4 million) and Germany ($11.6 million).

“Slumdog” is largely done with its domestic run, having been released on DVD earlier this month.

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