Chinese comedy drama, “Dying to Survive” opened with a massive $151 million to be the second largest film across the world this weekend. Its cumulative score by Sunday stands fractionally short of $200 million.
Based on real events, about a cancer survivor who took it on himself to import cheap drugs from India, the film is an unlikely winner in terms of subject matter. The film, directed by first time feature maker Wen Muye, changes the lead role to a non-patient, creating parallels with “Dallas Buyers Club.”
The picture got commercial traction by starring comedy titan Xu Zheng, veteran of “Lost in Thailand” and “Breakup Buddies,” and was powered by strong social media interest. It was the first Chinese-language film in 16 years to score 9 out of 10 on the Douban rating site. Adding to the film’s pedigree, Xu also co-produced with serial hitmaker Ning Hao (“Crazy Stone,” “No Man’s Land”). It premiered last month at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
After four days of successful previews, worth $48 million, the film was given a maximum push by exhibitors. Releasing with 167,000 screenings, it raced off to a $36.1 million Friday, according to data from Ent Group. On Saturday, it expanded to 187,000 sessions for $57.8 million, and followed that on Sunday with $57.2 million from 193,000 screenings.
The cumulative according to Ent was $199.7 million. The total included $5.7 million earned from 532 IMAX screens.
Chinese comedy, “New Happy Dad and Son 3: Adventure in Russia” took second place with a decent $10.5 million in three days.
Chinese action adventure, “Animal World” took third place with $8.57 million. After 10-days its cumulative is $64.3 million.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” took fourth place. It added $5.53 million for a 23-day score of $243 million.
“Incredibles 2” fared less well. Having never reached top spot, it sank to fifth place, scoring $3.30 million. Its cumulative after 17 days on release is $47.9 million.
No other film achieved more than $1 million over the weekend. “Escape Plan 2: Hades” was the best of the rest, scoring $330,000 for a 10-day total of $13.4 million.