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F9” roared into the lead at the China box office, where the “Fast and Furious” franchise has repeatedly lapped faster than in North America.

On its first weekend in China the film grossed $137 million, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway.

That gave it an 83% share of the China weekend box office, a market share figure that was notably stable from its Friday lights out. Total box office in the country was $165 million between Friday and Sunday.

Some $12.45 million of the “F9” total was earned from Imax screens in China. That was Imax’s third biggest May opening score (behind “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) and Universal’s second-best China opening weekend in Imax venues behind “Fate of the Furious.” The giant screen provider calculates that earning 9% of the nationwide box office from just 1% of the screens showing the film, is a franchise-best result.

The runaway win was achieved despite a mediocre critical reception in China. On the fan review site Douban “F9” earned only a 5.6 out of ten critical rating. On the more generous ticketing platforms Mtime and Taopiaopiao it earned only slightly better scores of 6.2 and 7.8, respectively.

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Artisan Gateway, nevertheless, calculates that the powerful performance was good for overall health of the theatrical economy. Its data shows that the year-to-date box office cumulative is now $3.86 billion, only 6.5% down on pre-COVID 2019. A week earlier, the gap had been 10%.

Gritty Chinese romance, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” released a day earlier than “F9” on Thursday in order to coincide with (yet another) local Valentine’s Day. It earned $15.6 million on Thursday and a further $15.1 million between Friday and Sunday, good enough for second place in the local chart.

Previous chart-topper, Zhang Yimou’s “Cliff Walkers” was edged into third place by the two new releases and earned $5.1 million over the weekend. That lifted its cumulative to $164 million since its pre-May Day release on April 30.

Japanese film “Love Letter” was re-released on Thursday and managed $4.1 million over the weekend and $7.4 million over four days.