China Box Office: Slowdown Continues as ‘Gutenberg’ Takes Third Weekend Win

Chinese cinemas were largely empty again over the weekend, allowing Hong Kong crime thriller “Project Gutenberg” to enjoy its third frame as the top-scoring film.

The cumulative total of the top 10 films amounted to just $41.2 million, according to data from Ent Group. That is the second lowest weekend this year.

The slump has followed new regulations that limit distributors’ ability to buy their own tickets to give the appearance of success, and that cap the fees charged by online ticketing companies. Both measures may have the effect of removing distortions and reveal data that presents a truer picture of theatrical demand.

The latest six-week slump may also reflect problems on the supply side. A growing number of commentators have identified a flow of weak films that have little novelty or particular appeal. Box office got a temporary boost at the Mid-Autumn Festival, but the score was more than 20% down on last year and the films released then have scarcely been challenged by new releases.

Project Gutenberg,” which was released Sept. 30, earned $13.5 million over the weekend, down 34%. Its cumulative total is $159 million after 22 days.

Hollywood comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” was the top new release. It earned a modest $5.7 million in second place.

Chinese drama “Lost, Found” slipped from second place to third with $5.2 million in its third weekend. It has earned a cumulative $32.1 million after 17 days.

Indian comedy drama “Hichki” took fourth place with $4.02 million. That gives it a cumulative of $11.4 million after 11 days.

Fifth place belonged to Warner Animation’s “Smallfoot.” Starting small on Friday, it accelerated to a Sunday score of $1.9 million and a weekend total of $3.85 million.

Minor places belonged to Zhang Yimou’s “Shadow” with $3.18 million (for a total of $87 million), art-house release “Baby” with $3.07 million, comedy “Hello Mrs. Money” with $1.13 million (for a total of $85.6 million), “Fat Buddies” with $860,000 and “Cry Me a River” with $720,000.

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