Courtesy of Bingo Movie Development

Stephen Chow’s “The Mermaid” on Saturday became the first film ever to score more than half a billion dollars at the Chinese box office.

The film grossed $8.18 million on Saturday and ended the day with $502.9 million (RMB3.30 billion) according to data from Ent Group. It has achieved that score in 27 days of release since its outing on the first day of the Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) holidays on Feb. 9.

The previous highest score at the Chinese box office came last year when “Monster Hunt,” a hybrid of live action and animation, grossed $382 million. “Monster Hunt” narrowly overhauled “Fast & Furious 7” with a theatrical run that benefitted from a prolonged ‘blackout period’ when imported movies were not allowed to be released, and with a run in cinemas extended to two months.

“The Mermaid” was last week granted a further three months in Chinese cinemas, according to a statement from China Film Group. The three-month extension will allow “The Mermaid” to play through the early May holidays, which are another peak cinema-going period, and should ensure that its new box office record remains unchallenged for a while.

The unprecedented success of “The Mermaid” and a trio of other films released close to Chinese New Year “The Monkey King 2” ($182 million after 27 days,) “The Man From Macau III” ($170 million after 27 days) and “Kung Fu Panda 3,” ($150 million after 37 days) meant that February at the Chinese box office was a record. The official Xinhua news agency reports that cumulative box office in China in February amounted to $1.05 billion and compared to $810 million in North America.

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