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Hollywood Sidelined as China Box Office Surges 39% in First Two Months

Box office in China climbed by 39% in the first two months of the year to hit $2.37 billion (RMB15.1 billion). The boom was largely driven by local films, with Hollywood kept on the sidelines.

The two-month total compares with $1.7 billion (RMB10.8 billion) in January and February last year. (Single-month comparisons can be difficult in the first quarter, as the all-important Chinese New Year holiday period changes each year, but it always falls in either January or February.)

This year, cinemas suffered two very slow weeks in January. But they burst back into action with four major films releasing simultaneously in mid-February and “Monster Hunt 2” breaking the record for the biggest opening weekend of all time.

Monster Hunt 2” was soon eclipsed, however. The top film so far this year is “Detective Chinatown 2,” with a stunning $454 million accumulated in 13 days to Feb. 28. It was followed by the $395 million taken by “Operation Red Sea” in the same period. “Monster Hunt 2” came third with $334 million, still short of the $380 million enjoyed by its predecessor in 2015.

“The Monkey King 3: Kingdom of Women” disappointed with a modest $111 million in eighth place. The top foreign film so far this year is India’s “Secret Superstar,” which amassed $117 million, with a great start in quiet January.

Hollywood’s top entry was ninth-placed “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” with $77.5 million, followed by “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” with $49.5 million. The $42 million for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was Hollywood’s most obvious disappointment.

Disney’s “Black Panther” could change Hollywood fortunes with its March 9 release. But it will compete not only against the tail end of the Chinese New Year quartet of top-performing films but also against another Indian hopeful, Salman Khan-starring “Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” and Oscar hopeful “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” all releasing on Friday.

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