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China box office monthly round-up: Spidey and DKR go head-to-head

The dominance of local films ended on August 27 when The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises opened on the same day.

However, before that date, thanks to an extended black-out period, two Chinese-language action dramas, The Silent War and The Bullet Vanishes, ruled the Chinese box office in the first three weeks of August.

Released on Aug 7, The Silent War, directed by Felix Chong and Alan Mak, was distributed by Mei Ah Entertainment in the Greater China region. Starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhou Xun, the WWII espionage drama grossed $38.08m in four weeks, as the biggest local film of the month.

The Bullet Vanishes, starring Nicholas Tse and Sean Lau Ching-wan, a drama about mysterious serial murders, was released on Aug 14 with Emperor Motion Pictures and Le Vision Pictures co-distributing. The film had grossed $24.15m by the end of August.

Lethal Hostage, another local action film starring Sun Honglei with Beijing Galloping Horse distributing, was also able to shine at the box office while no Hollywood blockbusters were on release. The film took $3.2m up until Sept 2.

Two comedies with actresses heading the cast also stood out in the second and third weeks of August. Local period comedy The Lion Roars 2, starring Cecilia Cheung, scored $11.53m in three weeks, while Mini Yang-starring romcom Holding Love managed to take in $7.08m by Aug 26 before Hollywood superheroes dominated the market the following day.

Sony Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man and Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises were both released on Aug 27.  The Amazing Spider-Man took the lead by a small edge in the opening week battle, taking in $35.69m, while The Dark Knight Rises took in $34.06m.

According to movie theatre managers, the Chinese cinemas scheduled slightly more shows of The Amazing Spider-Man than those of The Dark Knight Rises, because The Amazing Spider-Man’s 3D release represents higher ticket prices. The release of the two films boosted the weekly market by about 30%.

On the other hand, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi 3D release Prometheus received different treatment. The release date of the Twentieth Century Fox film was not confirmed until two weeks before the final opening day. Without much promotion and publicity, the film opened on Sept 2 and took in $4.57m in its first three days of release.

Looking ahead, there are two more blockbusters to open in September. The Expendables 2 was released on Sept 4 and Resident Evil: Retribution is scheduled for mid-September. Chinese movie fans will have a choice of five blockbusters in the same week.

However, such a congregation Hollywood blockbusters will only last for another three weeks. Starting from Sept 24, there will be yet another “local film protection month”, during which no revenue-sharing imported films will be released.

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