China Box Office: ‘Detective vs. Sleuths’ Wins Weekend, ‘Mozart From Space’ Disappoints

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Hong Kong crime thriller Detective vs. Sleuths surged to the top of China’s box office in its second weekend of release, earning $18.4 million. Chinese hitmaker Chen Sicheng’s much anticipated sci-fi comedy Mozart From Space, meanwhile, made a disappointing start in second place, taking $16.6 million.

Slipping just 20 percent from its opening frame, Detective vs. Sleuths has earned $58.8 million since its opening July 8. With the summer holiday now underway, ticketing app Maoyan projects the film to finish with a healthy $110 million haul.

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Produced by Emperor Motion Pictures, the film tells the story of a police detective (Sean Lau) pushed into retirement because of a mental breakdown who begins his own investigation into a string of crimes perpetrated by a serial killer known as “The Sleuth.” The film is directed by Ka-Fai Wai, best known as the writer of Johnnie To’s Hong Kong crime classic, Mad Detective.

Expectations were high for Mozart From Space. The film brings together Chen, the writer-director of the blockbuster Detective Chinatown franchise, and comedy icon Huang Bo, star of the blockbuster Lost In franchise. The movie’s story centers on a father who is pressuring his astronomy enthusiast son to become a classical pianist, leading to constant quarrels between the two — until a mysterious alien named Mozart appears in their lives, helping the son in the battle of wits against his father. The film received solid social scores from ticking apps Maoyan and Taopiaopiao — 8.8/10 — but it was savaged by Douban’s more discerning user base, scoring just 4.9. Maoyan now projects the film to top out at around $60 million.

Heartwarming drama Lighting Up the Stars put in a solid third-place performance in its fourth weekend on screens, adding $16.2 million for a $210 million total.

Coming in fourth place, Hollywood’s sole chart topper, Jurassic World: Dominion, earned $2.9 in its sixth frame. The Universal franchise film’s total now stands at $151 million, the biggest haul for an imported film this year.

A smattering of cinemas across China continue to experience random closings due to local COVID flare-ups, but exhibitors can take some relief that earnings have returned to a steady state as the summer blockbuster season gets further underway. Total sales over the weekend reached $57.5 million, a respectable sum in light of recent challenges. The country’s 2022 total currently stands at $2.82 billion, 35 percent less than the revenue total at the same point last year, according to Artisan Gateway’s data.

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