At China's box office, 'Crouching Tiger' is no match for 'Mermaid'

At China's box office, 'Crouching Tiger' is no match for 'Mermaid'
Show Luo in the Chinese movie "Mei ren yu (The Mermaid)." (Sony Pictures Releasing)

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2" debuted at the Chinese box office last week with a modest $21 million on its opening weekend, swamped by "The Mermaid," Stephen Chow's aquatic comedy that has become China's best-performing film in history.

"The Mermaid," which has ridden a wave of interest during the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, holiday, added $141.5 million to its haul in the seven days ending Sunday, bringing its total since its Feb. 8 debut to a whopping $418 million.

The story of a mogul whose environmentally disastrous plans to develop a scenic waterfront property are derailed when he falls for a precocious half-woman, half-fish, "The Mermaid" has dethroned "Monster Hunt" as the top-performing movie of all time on the mainland, according to data from film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway.

"The Mermaid" swam quickly to U.S. shores last weekend and took in $985,000 according to ComScore, an unusually strong showing for a Chinese film stateside. The film was released in the U.S. by Sony and was given an "R" rating by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

In second place for the week was "The Monkey King 2," another holiday hit, which has now grossed $141 million, Artisan said. That was followed by Bona Film's "The Man From Macau 3," the third installment in the popular casino caper series, which has taken in $154 million to date.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2,” starring Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh, got a head start in China and is to hit American theaters on Friday. The Weinstein Co. film was directed by Woo-ping Yuan. It placed fourth in China last week.

In fifth place in China last week was “Kung Fu Panda 3,” which has earned nearly $142 million in the country since its late January opening, more than its $117-million take in the United States and Canada. Worldwide, the DreamWorks Animation adventure has grossed about $294 million, according to ComScore.

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