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China Box Office: Questions Surround ‘Us and Them’ $88 Million Holiday Weekend Win

Romantic drama “Us and Them” dominated the Chinese box office over the weekend ahead of the May Day week holiday. But questions surround the scale of its victory.

Unusually, most new films opened on Saturday instead of the more typical Friday. That reflected the extended working week ahead of one of the most important holiday periods of the year in China. At least six new films were released, and over three days the top 10 included 17 different titles.

In the days before its Saturday release, “Us and Them” was the pre-sales favorite. And in two days it scored a sensational $88.8 million, according to data from Ent Group.

The directorial debut of Taiwanese actress Rene Liu, “Us and Them” stars Jing Boran, Zhou Dongyou, and Tian Zhuangzhuang. The tragicomedy features a story about strangers who meet on a train while traveling home for the holidays.

But there have been multiple local media reports of another scandal involving dubious ticket sales practices. At least one online vendor has been accused of selling refundable tickets to boost the apparent gross.

Exhibitors were nevertheless sufficiently convinced to expand the film’s venues from 144,000 screenings on Saturday to 162,000 on Sunday. It scored $44.8 million on Saturday and $44 million on Sunday.

Second place belonged to crime drama “A or B,” which scored $15.2 million from 60,000 screenings per day.

Dwayne Johnson-starring “Rampage” survived the assault and was Hollywood’s top film with $7.92 million from three days. After 17 days on release, it has accumulated $127 million.

Period action film “Genghis Khan” was a Saturday release that took $3.32 million. It was directed by Hasi Chaolu and produced by France’s Jean-Jacques Annaud.

Hong Kong crime story “The Trough” earned $2.89 million in two days, for fifth place. “Ready Player One” squeezed out another $2.32 million, extending its total to $212 million after 31 days.

The previous week’s rom-com favorite “21 Karat” was eased aside by “Us and Them” and earned just $1.1 million, for an eight-day total of $16.6 million.

Japanese animation “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” opened in eighth place with a two-day score of $950,000. That put it ahead of “Isle of Dogs” with $570,000 (and a nine-day cumulative of $5.6 million) and holdover “Dude’s Manual,” which scored $320,000 (for a cumulative of $5.45 million).

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