'xXx' and 'La La Land' sweep China's box office

Hollywood movies lit up China’s box office last week with Paramount’s “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” leading the way, followed by the award-winning musical “La La Land.”

The action thriller, starring Vin Diesel and Chinese kung fu star Donnie Yen, topped the box-office charts for the second week in a row by racking up $73.4 million in ticket receipts, according to film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway. Its 10-day box office reached $133.6 million, more than three times its U.S. total.

Despite tepid reviews — the film received a score of 5.8 out of 10 on Chinese fan-rating site Douban — the “xXx” sequel is still on course to become the best performing Hollywood film in China this year.

“Chinese audiences just like this type of film — high-tech, brainless plot,” said Gerald Fang, a Chinese film blogger. “Most importantly, it’s an action comedy.”

The Oscar-nominated romantic musical “La La Land” from Lionsgate, which opened conveniently on Valentine’s Day, scooped up $24.4 million in six days. This made it the highest-grossing musical ever in China.

The film earned better reviews on Douban — 8.5 out of 10, the highest score among all the movies released in China this year. Many Chinese moviegoers adore the musical’s two stars, so much so that they have Chinese nicknames: Gao Siling for Ryan Gosling, meaning “General Gao,” and Shitoujie for Emma Stone, meaning “Big Sister Stone.”

Jackie Chan’s action comedy “Kung-Fu Yoga” ranked third with $16.1 million last week, bringing its total to $243.6 million. It became the top-grossing film so far this year.

Chinese writer Han Han’s second screen work, “Duckweed,” pulled in $14.7 million, making its 23-day total $142.8 million. The animated musical “Sing,” produced by Illumination Entertainment, ranked fifth with $12.0 million in three days. 

Yang is a special correspondent

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