"Logan," the X-Men spinoff from 20th Century Fox, dominated China's box office last week, despite cuts in the movie mandated by regulators and efforts to promote the country's domestic film industry.
The superhero film starring Hugh Jackman topped the charts with a debut of $48.6 million in three days, more than the two previous X-Men films ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "The Wolverine") combined. Jackman has said that "Logan" will be the last time he plays Wolverine in the X-Men series.
The film's success comes in the wake of steps by the country's regulators to impose new restrictions on foreign cinema. "Logan" was the first movie released in China since a new law regulating film ratings took effect Mar. 1.
The law stipulates that "for films that might attract minors or other audiences that are physically or psychologically inappropriate, a warning should be given."
Chinese censors cut 14 minutes from the original's 137-minute runtime, citing vulgarity and violence (the film carries an R rating in the U.S.). Yet regulators still required the film to include a warning in its marketing materials, reading: "elementary school students and preschool children must be accompanied by parents."
The horror-action film "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter," produced by the German entertainment giant Constantin Film, slipped to second in its second week running, adding $43.8 million to its tally of $138.9 million in China. The film, distributed by Sony/Screen Gems, is the sixth installment in the "Resident Evil" film series based on the video game of the same name.
"A Dog's Purpose," the first collaboration between China's Alibaba Pictures and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, opened in third place with $17.2 million in ticket sales in three days.
"A Dog's Purpose" is director Lasse Hallström's second film about dogs to screen in China. Both garnered good reviews on China's film fan rating site Douban — "'A Dog's Purpose" got 8 out of 10, and "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" in 2009 received 9.2, one of the highest on the site.
Rounding out the top five last week were "Assassin's Creed," which managed $5.5 million for a total of $22.9 million, and "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" which took in $5 million for total earnings of $161.5 million.
Warner Bros.' "The Lego Batman Movie," which has been a hit in North America, opened poorly with only $3.5 million in three days. One reason may be the Lego franchise's week fan base in the country — the original film "The Lego Movie" in 2014 was not released in China.
However, the Danish toy brand has made a recent effort to improve its footprint in China. It opened its largest retail shop in Shanghai last year and is working on a $300 million project to bring its Legoland theme park to the city.