Local films aren’t exactly bringing in the crowds government regulators had hoped for during the annual summer blackout period as the weekend box office dropped to its lowest total since the beginning of April.
In the surest sign yet that Chinese audiences are tiring of stale domestic films, this weekend’s highest per screening attendance belonged to Universal’s Despicable Me 3 on its third weekend in theaters despite a slew of new domestic summer releases.
The animated sequel from Illumination Entertainment fell just 56 percent from last weekend to take 4th place with 62 million yuan* ($9.1 million), bringing its 17-day total to a robust 864 million yuan ($128.1 million). The strong weekend holds from Despicable Me 3 mean it’s well on its way to become the third animation behind Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3 to join the 1 billion yuan club.
This weekend’s top three spots went to local films, but none were able to break out in terms of audience reception and will likely fade quickly from the box office charts.
Debuting in first place, Brotherhood of Blades II (绣春刀II修罗战场) earned 104 million yuan ($15.5 million) across the three-day weekend. The wuxia sequel starring Zhang Zhen (The Grandmaster) and Yang Mi (Tiny Times) has grossed 164 million yuan ($24.3 million) since it opened last Wednesday.
China’s biggest summer hit thus far, Wu Kong (悟空传) starring Eddie Peng as the legendary Sun Wukong, lost 70 percent of its opening weekend’s business to earn 80 million yuan ($11.9 million) this weekend. Wu Kong‘s 10-day total is now 587 million yuan ($86.9 million).
In third place, local comedy Father and Son (父子雄兵) starring funnyman Da Peng (Jianbing Man) crashed and burned upon arrival, debuting with just 73 million yuan ($10.8 million).
The domestic box office looks to rebound next weekend with the highly-anticipated release of action film Wolf Warriors 2 (战狼2), director Wu Jing’s sequel to his surprise box office hit from 2015. Propaganda film The Founding of an Army (建军大业) opens as well to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA on August 1.
*All listed grosses in this article are adjusted to remove online ticketing fees. For a primer on why CFI reports this way, see here.