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China box office monthly round-up: Bait 3D makes surprise attack

Bait 3D, Huayi Brothers’ Tai Chi films and The Bourne Legacy all took a bite out of the China box office in October.

A trio of 3D releases performed strongly at the China box office in October, demonstrating the power of the format in this emerging market. Among them, Bait 3D stood out with box office takings of $24.7m in its first three weeks.

Meanwhile, 3D release Tai Chi Zero continued to shine after a healthy first-week gross in late September, with cumulative box office reaching $23.25m for producer-distributor Huayi Brothers. It was followed by the second film of the 3D trilogy, Tai Chi Hero, which opened Nov 1 and grossed $9.05m during its first weekend.

Bait 3D, an official Australia-Singapore co-production, was co-produced by China’s Yunnan Film Group and Enlight Pictures who also handled mainland China distribution. The film opened on Oct 12, one week after the National Day holiday, during which no heavyweight Hollywood or Chinese pictures were released.

No Hollywood films were released until Total Recall on Oct 20 and The Bourne Legacy on Oct 24. Total Recall grossed $16.24m after three weekends, while The Bourne Legacy swept Chinese cinemas in the first two weeks with $25.57m.

Another well-performing October release was EuropaCorp’s Taken 2, which opened on Oct 7 and grossed a total of around $18.5m.

The first three weeks of October, before the end of “local film protection month”, is also seen as a good time to release non-Hollywood foreign films, which are imported into China on a flat-fee basis. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 grossed around $4.9m, while Anna Karenina took $2.03m and late September release Looper finished its run in October with a solid $20.63m.

Apart from the two Tai Chi films, the only well-performing local film in October was romantic comedy Love Is…Pajamas. Starring Hong Kong’s Ronald Cheng, the film grossed $4.28m.

Because of the “local film protection month”, in which no Hollywood films opened in the first three weeks of the month, the market in October appeared quieter than in previous years. Several 3D Hollywood films will be released in November, including DreamWorks’ Rise Of The Guardians, Disney’s Wreck It Ralph, Fox’s Life Of Pi and Sony’s re-release of 2012.

They will face strong competition from Chinese films such as Lu Chuan’s The Last Supper and Feng Xiaogang’s Back To 1942. No Hollywood films are expected to be released during December which is usually reserved for local films. Skyfall and The Hobbit are both scheduled for January in mainland China.

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