White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom

HONG KONG – Fan Bingbing-starring martial arts fantasy “The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom” topped the Chinese box office in its opening week, with a score of $35.4 million (RMB218 million).

But the star performances came from the enduringly strong performances of a handful of holdovers, which left almost no room for foreign-fare.

Big-budget “Witch,” which had the backing of industry heavyweights Bona Film Group, Wanda Media and Youku Tudou, delivered a creditable score. But it did not hit the heights of either “Tiny Times 3” or “The Continent,” Chinese films with lower budgets which opened in the two previous weeks.

“The Continent,” by Han Han a celebrity blogger and car racer turned first time director, came in a close second place, dropping only 27% in its second frame to score $34.7 million (RMB214 million) and missing the top spot by less than $1 million, according to data from Entgroup. Han Han’s road movie, in which Bona also has a distribution role, moved on to an 11 day cume of $82.3 million (RMB507).

That figure is identical to the cume amassed by “Tiny Times 3,” after 18 days. It charted in sixth spot with a weekly score of $6.59 million (RMB40.6 million).

The week’s other standout holdover was Chinese-made horror “The House That Never Dies.” It added $9.77 million (RMB60.2 million) in fourth place for a total of $62.9 million (RMB388 million) after 17 days.

Entering the chart in third place was “Girls” (aka “Girlfriends”) a youth romance made by Hong Kong’s Barbara Wong with a pan-Chinese cast.

Luc Besson-produced Canadian actioner “Brick Mansions” debuted in fifth place with a score of $7.62 million (RMB47 million).

“Dragon Nest,” a Chinese-made animated game adaptation, debuted in seventh place with a disappointing opening score of $5.58 million. It will need to play well in other markets to recoup, what has been reported as a $22 million budget, though a sequel is already in the pipeline. Another Chinese made animation, “The Magical Brush” took eighth spot with $3.70 million (RMB22.8 million) in its second week, for a cume of $8.50 million (RMB52.4 million).

Indian actioner “Dhoom 3” continued to hold ninth spot for the second week, improving its score by 16% to $1.60 million (RMB9.86 million) in the holdover. Indian media had criticized the Chinese distributor for lack of effort and an invisible marketing campaign. After ten days it has scored $2.97 million (RMB18.3 million), making it one of the best performing Indian films in China for several years.

Hong Kong-produced “Break Up 100” slipped into the chart in tenth place with $1.04 million (RMB6.41 million).

Chinese language films look set to continue to dominate next week, with the unofficial ‘blackout period’ set to break only on Aug. 14 with the Chinese release of “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”

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