China Box Office: ‘Apes’ Prevail Again on Slow Pre-Holiday Weekend

20th Century Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes held off newcomer The Hitman’s Bodyguard as the weekend box office cooled off ahead of a historic National Day holiday onslaught.

China’s re-ignited 2017 box office — currently 13%* ahead of last year’s sluggish market through September 25 — caught its breath this weekend ahead of the weeklong National Day festival which will welcome several potential high-earning domestic releases.

Although imported films accounted for the top five positions at the weekend box office and dominated with 88% market share, overall box office revenue reached just RMB 319 million* ($48 million), the slowest moviegoing weekend of 2017 since January 20-22 when millions of Chinese were gathered at home for pre-Lunar New Year preparations.

This weekend’s poor showing had no such excuse — moviegoers just didn’t seem enamored with the new releases amid dwindling demand for Hollywood blockbusters Planet of the Apes and Spider-Man.

Still, 20th Century Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes (猩球崛起3) held admirably for a second consecutive weekend crown. The final installment in the rebooted franchise fell just 69% from its outing last weekend to gross RMB 114 million* ($17.2 million) and lift the 10-day China total to RMB 614 million* ($92.6 million). War looks to be headed towards a finish near $110 million* which would make it the highest-grossing chapter of the series in China.

Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard (王牌保镖debuted in second place this weekend with RMB 84 million* ($12.6 million). The film received local marketing expertise from Pearl River Pictures Co. (珠江影业传媒有限公司) and was co-produced and co-financed through LA-based Cristal Pictures, a new indie production outfit bankrolled by Hong Kong-based East Light Media.

The biggest winner of the weekend belonged not to Hollywood, but rather Spain, as the suspense/thriller Contratiempo (看不见的客人) racked up RMB 39 million* ($5.8 million) in third place, a remarkable 29% increase from its opening weekend. A buy-out film from local distribution company Beijing Zhonghe Qiancheng (北京众合千澄传媒), Contratiempo is now the highest-grossing non-English European film of all-time in China with RMB 97 million* ($14.7 million) and will continue to climb behind stellar word-of-mouth.

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In fourth place, Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (蜘蛛侠:英雄归来earned RMB 35 million* ($5.2 million) to bring its 17-day China total to RMB 708 million* ($106.8 million).

Kid-friendly newcomer Thomas & Friends: The Great Race (托马斯大电影之了不起的比赛) rounded out the top five opening with RMB 10 million* ($1.5 million).

Next weekend, six wide local releases crowd into the most competitive National Day holiday on record (the number would have been seven, but director Feng Xiaogang’s highly-anticipated drama Youth was pulled at the last minute for undisclosed reasons).

Potential $150 million+ earners include Never Say Die (羞羞的铁拳), the follow-up from the makers of China’s highest-grossing comedy Goodbye Mr. Loser, and The Foreigner (英伦对决), starring Jacky Chan and Pierce Brosnan.

*All listed grosses in this article are adjusted to remove online ticketing fees. For a primer on why CFI reports this way, see here.