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China box office monthly round-up: The Expendables 2 tops September box office

The Expendables 2 was the highest-grossing release at the Chinese box office in September; a month dominated by US films.

Four US films dominated the box office last month: The Expendables 2, Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises, Sony Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man and Fox’s Prometheus.

However, the result of scheduling four US blockbusters in one week was not pleasing to Chinese cinema managers, not to mention the distributors of the films. The four films - which were released separately in North America in June, July and August - have each performed lower than the expectations of local cinema managers.

Both released on August 27, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises continued to shine in the first two weeks of September. Going head-to-head, Spider-Man took the lead by a small edge in the opening week, but Dark Knight Rises began to catch up in the second week. By the end of September, Dark Knight Rises had grossed $55.3m, while The Amazing Spider-Man took in around $51m.

Released on Sep 2, Prometheus had a rough opening week. Although it took off in the week of Sep 9, the film’s total box office stayed around $35.3m, much lower than expected.

The biggest winner of the September box office was The Expendables 2. Released by Le Vision Pictures on Sep 4, the film dominated the first three weekends in September. Still on release in October, The Expendables 2 had grossed $50.6m up until September 30.

Among local films, Wang Quanan’s historical drama White Deer Plain is the top-grossing Chinese film in September. Released on September 15, the Kitty Zhang-starring film is Wang’s first attempt at tackling a big-budget period drama. He should be pleased as the film’s box office reached $16.55m up until the end of September.

The last week of September saw five new releases clashing before China’s National Day holidays: Huayi Brothers’ steam-punk kung-fu drama Tai Chi 0; Enlight Media’s Chow Yun-fat starring period drama The Assassin; Korean director Hur Jin-ho’s Dangerous Liaisons, and Li Yu’s contemporary drama Double Xposure. The only English-language film to open was Rian Johnson’s Looper

Tai Chi 0and Looper were the two leading films in the crowded holiday period from Sept 29 to Oct 7. By the end of the holiday, Tai Chi 0 had taken in $18.3m and Looper $16.76m; The Assassin scored $13.76m and Double Xposure $13.1m.  The most disappointing opening was the star-studded Dangerous Liaisons, which had taken in only $8.32m ten days after its release.

From late September on there is yet another local film protection month, during which no Hollywood blockbusters will be released. The next Hollywood film to appear again in the China market will be Universal’s The Bourne Legacy on October 25.

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