Romantic comedy, “Book of Love” opened a new chapter at the Chinese box office, replacing “The Jungle Book” as the top film.
The film scored a strong $53.4 million over the first three days of the May Day (aka Labor Day) weekend. Monday May 2 will be taken as a public holiday in place of the traditional May 1 which fell on a Sunday this year.
That debut was more than double the weekend score for “Jungle Book,” which dropped only 30% in its third weekend to $20.8 million, according to data from Ent Group. After 16 days of release “Jungle Book” has a cumulative total of $131 million. “Book of Love” is one of the strongest ever starts for a Chinese rom com and a personal triumph for female director Xue Xiaolu.
This is Xue’s third movie after the surprise debut “Ocean Heaven,” which starred Jet Li in a wholly dramatic role, and romance “Finding Mr. Right” which was a smash hit in 2013. “Book of Love” is a partial sequel to “Finding Mr. Right” in that it re-employs the same two leads Tang Wei and Wu Xiubo, but in a different story.
Such is the growth of the Chinese box office in the past three years that the opening week for “Book of Love” will likely overtake the final score of “Finding Mr Right,” which earned $87 million. It is also a further comeback for Tang Wei, one of Asia’s most loved female leads, but who had suffered a run of flops (“The Golden Era,” Michael Mann’s “Blackhat” and “Only You”) and success with last year’s outsized hit “Monster Hunt.”
Two other Chinese-made newcomers made a modest impression on the box office. Romantic suspense drama “Phantom of the Theater” earned $7.85 million for third place. Aspirational workplace romance, “MBA Partners” earned $7.82 million for fourth.
Below that, there were slim pickings for newcomers and holdovers alike. Only two – Huang Xiaoming-led drama “Xuan Zang” with a $2.94 million debut and “Yesterday Once More” in a second weekend worth $2.49 million – exceeded $1 million.
“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” took $710,000 for a cumulative of $15.8 million. “London Has Fallen” had its run halted with a score of $52.1 million.