Stephen Chow's Chinese New Year offering CJ7 raked in $13.5m over its opening weekend in the Greater China region, topping the box office in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In China, the biggest challenge for the picture was the unpredictable weather as an on-going snowstorm, the worst to hit China in decades, brought transport and energy systems in affected areas to a halt.

From Jan 30-Feb 3 the picture collected $8.73m (RM62.76m) in China. This was slightly lower than Peter Chan's The Warlords and Feng Xiaogang's The Assembly, two Chinese blockbusters which opened last December, but was considered remarkable given the snowstorm.

Distributor China Film Group said it couldn't deliver film prints to major cities such as Changsha, Wuhan and Nanjing on the opening day.

In Chow's home territory Hong Kong, the picture grossed $2.03m (HK$15.82m) on 85 prints, beating Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, while Taiwan brought in another $2.7m on 154 prints.

Best known as a comedy king for his slapstick humour in films such as Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, Chow turned to science fiction, a rare subject matter for a Chinese film, in CJ7 which features an adorable alien dog.

Although his box office prowess has been proven in Greater China, the picture will face a tough battle in its second week as Kevin Chu's Kung Fu Dunk, starring pop superstar Jay Chou opens in the above markets.

The two pictures will also clash head-to-head in South-East Asia including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand where the two open simultaneously on Feb 7 (except Thailand). Sony handles all distribution in Asia except China.