By Patrick Frater
HONG KONG – Transformers Age of Extinction enjoyed a huge debut in China and it topped a massive week for Hollywood in the Middle Kingdom. But the highest scoring film of the year so far remains Chinese. And with local and Hollywood titles powering ahead, combined box office for the first half of the year is up 22%.
The half year figure comes from M1905, the movie channel arm of China Central Television. It reports that theatrical box office hit RMB13.4 billion ($2.16 billion) in the six months to end of June. The increase of 22% is a shade less than the 27% full year gain made last year when annual B.O. rose to $3.6 billion, though the first half has regularly been slower than the second semester.
Top film this year is The Monkey King a China-Hong Kong co-production directed by Hong Kong’s Cheang Pou-soi with a cume of $170 million.
It beat second placed X-Men: Days of Future Past which clocked up $118 million and is the top Hollywood film so far this year. Captain America: The Winter Soldier with $115 million is third this year and the second ranked Hollywood title. Dad, Where Are We Going? a docu-reality film derived from a local TV reality show was fifth with $112 million.
Significantly for the endless war of words between Hollywood and the Chinese film industry, the first half of 2014 saw Hollywood reverse last year’s setback and claim a 52% market share. That gave foreign films RMB6.95 billion ($1.12 billion) and Chinese films RMB6.45 billion ($1.04 billion).
Much of the ranking seems set to be made redundant by the rise and rise of Transformers 4, which was only included for four days in the M1905 half year data.
Paramount reported that Transformers 4 scored a massive $90 million in its opening weekend. Local box office tracking firm Entgroup puts the figure at $99 million, garnering a massive 64% market share from 14.7 million admissions.
Other Hollywood movies Maleficent, Godzilla and Edge of Tomorrow took third, fourth and fifth places this week, with $16.5 million (for a cume of $38.7 million), $7.6 million (for a cume of $77 million) and $3.22 million (for a cume of $65.3 million).
A smart piece of counter-programming saw Chinese (anti-)romantic comedy The Break Up Guru snatch second place with $24.1 million from 4.53 million admissions.
The opening performance by Transformers 4 makes Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s prediction that the film will break records look a near certainty. The previous installment reaped just $165 million in China.
Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation