Jackie Chan once again proved his box office mettle in China, while new releases took the top seven box office places over the important Chinese New Year period.
“Dragon Blade,” in which Chan stars with Adrien Brody and John Cusack, and which was produced by Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media company, emerged on top with a beefy $54.8 million in four days (Thursday to Sunday, Feb. 19-22).
That was 26% of the $210 million combined top 10 box office over the week of Feb. 16-22.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said in a statement that total box office reached $282 million (RMB1.73 billion) in the five day Feb. 19-24 period. That compares with $231 million (RMB1.39 billion) last year.
Like its rivals, “Dragon Blade” chose to release on the first day of this year’s Chinese New Year holiday. Distributors include Easter Mordor and Huayi Bros. Financial backers for the reportedly $65 million production include Alibaba Pictures Group and its Yulebao fan funding operation.
It beat “The Man From Macau II,” a sequel to last year’s hit Chow Yun-fat-starring Hong Kong-style gambling comedy “The Man From Macau” (aka “From Vegas to Macau”), directed by Wong Jing. Distributed by Bona Film Group, the picture earned $43.1 million in four days.
In third place was 3D fantasy “Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal,” produced on a budget of some $30 million. The film was co-directed by “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s” Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau and Zhao Tianyu and earned $31.2 million. Distributors include Enlight Pictures and state-owned Huaxia Distribution.
In fourth was Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Wolf Totem,” a $38 million Franco-Chinese adaptation of a bestselling novel that mixes up wildlife and painful modern history of the Cultural Revolution. Distributed and financed by China Film Group, and also presented in 3D, it managed a tepid $24.8 million in its four days of official release. But including previews, its cume stands at a more acceptable $32.3 million.
“Where Are We Going Dad 2,” a sequel to last year’s surprise hit “Where Are We Going Dad,” earned $20.7 million and fifth place for distributor LeVision Pictures. The bigscreen adaptation of a TV reality show that sees celebrity parents doing silly things with their kids is scorned by some as barely a movie, but it proved solid family entertainment for the holiday period.
Seventh place belonged to “Emperor’s Holiday’s,” a more creative adaptation of the same “Where Are We Going, Dad” TV series. It earned $8.95 million for Tianjin Bona and Huaxia.
Splitting the pair and taking sixth place was “Triumph in the Skies,” a movie version of a popular Hong Kong TV series about couples in the airline business. It earned $12.7 million in four days for distributors Media Asia and Enlight.
In eighth was the previous week’s top film, romance “Somewhere Only We Know,” which earned $6.31 million over the holidays. It did well to jump the holiday crush and has a cume that now stands at $44.3 million after 13 days.
Likewise “Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part I” earned a modest $4.03 million on the week, but has a cume of $36.0 million after 15 days.
Bringing up 10th place was “Boonie Bears: Mystical Winter,” which squeezed out $3.82 million, for a cumulative score of $44 million after 25 days.
The top films will likely continue to cannibalize each other over the next week, though word of mouth will help some more than others and a reordering of the chart seems likely – “Wolf Totem” and “Dragon Blade” currently get the highest viewer ratings on popular movie website Douban.
They will also be joined by competition from Hollywood in the animated form of “Big Hero 6,” which releases on Saturday, Feb. 28. Other Hollywood releases coming up include another family-friendly title, “Paddington,” on March 5. The Wachowski siblings’ “Jupiter Ascending,” which flopped badly in North America, may find some solace from Chinese audiences, who are warm to big vfx movies. It releases on March 6.