Hollywood sci-fi movies 'Rogue One' and 'Passengers' dominate China's box office

American sci-fi films dominated China’s box office last week, just two weeks before the Chinese New Year movie-going frenzy, when film regulators usually block imported films to boost domestic ones.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” topped the charts last week, taking in $22 million in its second week. The spinoff still saw a 29% decrease compared with the previous week, according to film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway.  The 10-day cumulative total in China for the Lucasfilm blockbuster reached $52.8 million.

“Rogue One,” which stars Felicity Jones and Diego Luna alongside Chinese actors Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, received high praise from Chinese moviegoers who saw the film.

Nonetheless, moviegoers in the Middle Kingdom have shown tepid interest in the Star Wars series. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” only ranked 13th on China’s 2016 box office charts, while it became the highest-grossing film of all time in America.

Second place in China last week went to Sony’s sci-fi romance “Passengers,” which racked up $17.5 million in three days. The film, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, is Sony’s first release since it secured a deal with China’s entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group last September. The agreement helps the Culver City studio gain access to the world’s second-largest film market.

Both Lawrence and Pratt have accumulated huge fan bases in China. Lawrence found popularity in China with “The Hunger Games.” Chinese fans gave Lawrence a nickname, dabiaojie, or big cousin. Pratt is known as xingjue, or Star Lord, by moviegoers who adored his performance in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The Chinese romantic comedy “Some Like It Hot” slipped to third, receiving $17 million in ticket receipts, bring its 17-day total to $69.3 million.

Jackie Chan’s action film “Railroad Tigers” ranked fourth, adding $6.3 million in its forth week for a 24-day total of $93.3 million. The Friday opener “Backkom Bear: Agent 008,” a Chinese animation produced by Alpha Pictures, ranked fifth, earning $5.9 million.

Yingzhi Yang is a special correspondent

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