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China Box Office: ‘Dumbo’ Falls Short of Nostalgic Local Fare

Despite a lack of blockbuster competition, Disney’s live-action “Dumbo” didn’t fly all that far in its China opening, failing to soar past a nostalgic Chinese drama already in its second week as sentimental human-interest dramas filled many of the top spots.

Er Dong Pictures’ “Song of Youth” was the weekend’s top performer, taking in $11.7 million over the three-day period, according to figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway. The Maoyan online ticketing platform predicts that the film will earn $46.2 million (RMB310 million) over the course of its monthlong run in China – nearly double Maoyan’s prediction for “Dumbo.” Directed by newcomer Zhang Luan, “Song of Youth” tells the story of a teacher who changes the lives of his 1985 class of middle school students.

The Tim Burton-helmed “Dumbo” made only $10.8 million, in spite of a star-studded Hollywood cast including Eva Green, Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Thandie Newton’s daughter Nico Parker. It received a 6.8 out of 10 on the more discerning Douban user review platform, but a 9 and 8.6 on the more populist Maoyan and Taopiaopiao sites, respectively, with many who liked it cooing over the cuteness of the little elephant.

Spanish sci-fi time-travel thriller “Mirage,” written and directed by Oriol Paulo and produced by Atresmedia Cine, came in a surprise third. With its $9 million opening weekend, it made in three days in China more than nine times what it made in its native Spain, where it debuted last November and grossed just $868,000. Paulo’s crime thriller “The Invisible Guest” made $26 million in Chinese theaters in 2017, far outstripping its $3.89 million performance in Spain.

Wanda Media’s “The Human Comedy” opened Friday and came in fourth with $8.4 million despite miserable reviews, with just 3.4 on Douban and 5.6 on Maoyan. Taiwanese melodrama “More Than Blue” continued to perform strongly after half a month in theaters, coming in fifth with $6.2 million. A remake of a 2009 Korean film, the tearjerker tells the story of lifelong loves who never get the chance to be together when one of them falls terminally ill.

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