Local films fare well over the weekend

HONG KONG – Local-films pummeled Hollywood fare throughout Asia over the past box office weekend.

In ‘Greater China’ the roll out of “Red Cliff II” took the historical epic to the top of the charts in four territories. In Japan disaster epic “Pandemic Archipelago” (Kansen Retto) finally deposed “Wall-E,” while in India, Bollywood comedy “Chandni Chowk to China” opened with good business. And in Korea, two local champions kept their lock on the top slots.

The second installment of John Woo’s “Red Cliff” clocked an approximate $11.6 million in its second frame, having clocked up some $14.8 million in its opening week. Local sources put the 11 day total at RMB181 million ($26.4 million) and distributor China Film Group has now forecast that final total will exceed RMB400 million ($58.4 million).

Chinese chart also contained surprise hit in “Pleasant Goat and Big, Big Wolf,” a local animation which official news agency Xinhua reports as having enjoyed a $1.17 million opening day and a $4.38 million first week. That carries it significantly ahead of previous record holder “Storm Rider – Clash of Evils”, an animated adaptation of the Storm Riders comic, which grossed in $3.65 million in two weeks in mid 2008.

“Red Cliff II” bowed in two Rentrak-tracked territories, Hong Kong and Taiwan and held top spot in Singapore in its second frame. The three territories added a further $2.06 million to the Chinese total.

In Hong Kong, pic was released on an exceptionally wide 73 screens handled by Edko Films on behalf of Mei Ah Entertainment and captured HK$9.1 million ($1.17 million). But total failed to match the boffo start of the first installment, which preemed in July 2008 to a $1.36 million four day weekend take on 60 screens.

Rentrak’s Taipei figure (through Fox Int’l) for “Cliff” was $413,000 from 16 locations. Handled in Singapore by Golden Village, pic scored $474,000 from 47 sites for a cume of $1.60 million.

In a smart piece of counter programming against “Red Cliff,” Hong Kong distributor Intercontinental gave Hayao Miyazaki animation “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” a Saturday release and earned a solid $673,000 two day gross from a 58 screen release.

Warner Bros.’s biggest Bollywood movie to date “Chandni Chowk to China” was given an ultra-wide release in India and further outings in some 30 territories worldwide.

In India it scored a strong but not exceptional $6.8 million from an enormous 1,319 playdates, but local trade analysts point to poor critical reception, low occupancy and weak legs. Warner said the launch in India was “excellent” with 4.9 million admissions including previews.

(The Akshay Kumar-starrer, “Chandni” grossed $625,000 at 130 sites in North America and $407,000 at 61. in the U.K.)

Japanese B.O. was infested with “Pandemic Archipelago” (Kansen Retto), a disaster epic about a mysterious disease that kills millions.

Opening on the weekend of Jan. 17-18, and handled by Toho, the film, which stars Satoshi Tsumabuki and Rei Dan as doctors battling the pandemic, earned $3.35 million from 225,000 admissions at 324 sites in its first two days. Producer TBS released another medical drama “The Glorious Team Batista,” in almost the same slot last year (Jan 9, 2008.)

Pic was the only opener to make the top ten, though in sneak previews over the same weekend the James Bond pic “Quantum of Solace” earned $3 million, ahead of its Jan. 24 bow.

Steven Soderberg’s “Che” fell one notch to number three with $958,000 in its second frame for a cume of $4.14 million. The local superhero thriller “K-20,” took fourth place with $803,000 in its fifth week delivering a cume of $18.2 million.

With a hair‘s breadth between them local titles “A Frozen Flower” and “Scandal Makers” held the top two places – again–in Korea. KOBIS data from the Korean film Council placed Lotte Entertainment’s “Scandal” back on top, having sold over 6.3 million tickets (Rentrak puts its cumulative gross at $31.0 million,) while Rentrak figures kept sexy drama “Flower” on top with $1.88 million for the weekend and a cume of $15.5 million after three weeks. (KOBIS shows admissions exceeding three million.)

Only new entrant into the Korean top ten was Japanese anime “Beyblade the Movie: Gekitou!! Takao vs Daichi,” in tenth place with $87,000 on 135 screens for Lotte.

Marcus Lim in Hong Kong and Mark Schilling in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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