The Andy Lau- and Louis Koo-starring Hong Kong action film “White Storm 2: The Drug Lords” was the third highest grossing film in the world this weekend thanks to a strong $62.4 million China opening. It far outstripped other Chinese and U.S. content in Chinese theaters.
Directed by Herman Yau and produced by Lau, the film tells the story of the chaos that ensues after a former triad member turned philanthropist offers a large bounty in exchange for the life of Hong Kong’s top drug dealer. Though it shares a name with 2013’s “The White Storm,” which also starred Louis Koo, it is a standalone story. That earlier film was directed by Benny Chan and went on to earn around $35 million (RMB238 million) in China.
This installment’s three-day haul more than doubled the second weekend performance of Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which came in second with $29.8 million, according to data from Artisan Gateway. The weekend haul was down 69% from its opening session. Nevertheless, the web-slinging hero has rapidly brought in a total of $166 million at the China box office, making the Jon Watts-directed feature the third highest-grossing Hollywood studio film so far this year in the mega-territory.
Both films benefited from the absence of “The Eight Hundred,” a blockbuster war-action film from Huayi Brothers. The film was scheduled to have released this weekend, but it was abruptly pulled from its opening slot at the Shanghai festival last month and halted before it got to commercial theaters after being criticized by an influential Communist think tank.
Other top films this weekend were mostly animated titles. Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2” ranked third in China with a $10.3 million debut — putting it roughly on par with the China debut of “Toy Story 4,” which underperformed against expectations late last month with an opening weekend of just $13.2 million. The first film in the “Pets” franchise hit Chinese theaters in 2016 and made $58.3 million.
Studio Ghibli’s nearly 20-year-old animated “Spirited Away” continued to hold its own, coming in fourth at the box office with $4.2 million. It has now earned a cumulative $65.5 million in China, more than double the $25.2 million “My Neighbor Totoro” — another beloved Hayao Miyazaki-helmed classic — earned when it was released theatrically there in December.
Chinese animated feature “Lolipop in Fantasy” took in $3.1 million in its opening weekend, edging it ahead of Toy Story 4, which made just $1.03 million (RMB7.06 million). The Disney/Pixar sequel has made a cumulative total of $28.2 million (RMB193 million) so far — putting it not that much further ahead than the $17.1 million (RMB117 million) score gross of “Toy Story 3,” which came out nearly a decade ago at a time when China’s theatrical market was far smaller and less developed.