"Pacific Rim Uprising" from Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures earned $65 million in China over the weekend, generating nearly half of the country's total box office receipts last week and dominating other releases.
The sci-fi blockbuster's earnings also make it the second-biggest opening for a Hollywood film in China this year, following "Black Panther," which grossed $67 million in its debut, according to the film consulting firm Artisan Gateway.
When the original Guillermo del Toro-directed "Pacific Rim" came out in 2013, it collected $110.4 million in China, outstripping its ticket sales in North America.
For the latest film, Del Toro handed over the director's role to newcomer Steven DeKnight, best known as the showrunner for Netflix's "Daredevil" series.
The franchise has also seen some changes to accommodate the Chinese market, reflecting a change in Legendary's ownership. In 2016, China's Dalian Wanda Group bought Legendary in a deal valued at $3.5 billion.
More Chinese faces have been added to the cast of the 2018 film. Most notably, Chinese actress Jing Tian plays a prominent supporting role.
Despite the notable Chinese participation and the movie's solid opening, the film is suffering from poor word of mouth in the Middle Kingdom. On film rating website Douban.com, the new "Pacific Rim" received a meager 5.8/10 on average from 57,110 viewers. That is lower than "Black Panther" (6.7/10) and "Tomb Raider" (6.4/10).
Many of the popular comments concerned Jing's performance, but the opinions are varied. One commentator called her acting "awkward," but another cheered, "The fighting is great. Jing saved the world in the end. All hail China!"
"Tomb Raider," starring Alicia Vikander and Chinese actor Daniel Wu, dropped to second place with $28.1 million last week, bringing its cumulative box office receipts to $69.7 million.
"Operation Red Sea," the military action film by Hong Kong director Dante Lam, came in third place in its sixth week in theaters, with $12 million in weekly ticket sales. Its cumulative box office has reached a staggering $566.3 million, only $7.9 million short of "The Mermaid" of 2016, China's second highest-grossing film of all time.
The propagandistic documentary "Amazing China" and Disney's "Black Panther" rounded up the top five list, earning $11 million and $6.8 million, respectively. "Black Panther" has grossed $103.5 million in China so far.