'Need For Speed' rushing to top at Chinese theaters

'Need For Speed' rushing to top at Chinese theaters
Aaron Paul, in a scene from Dreamworks' "Need for Speed," looks likely to earn more in its Chinese release than it does in America. (Melinda Sue Gordon / Associated Press)

What might “Need for Speed” have in common with “Pacific Rim,” “Escape Plan” and “Cloud Atlas”? The Dreamworks driving film might end up being one of those (increasingly less) rare Hollywood movies to perform better in mainland China than stateside.

The Aaron Paul-starrer was released Friday in China, the same day as in the U.S., and kicked up $19.7 million in its first three days, film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway said.  That’s about $2 million ahead of its stateside tally, and the movie accounted for nearly 40% of receipts at the mainland box office for the full week ending Sunday.

Hollywood films took the three top spots this week, with "Robocop" at No. 2 and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" at No. 3.

China box office revenue for MGM’s “Robocop” has also caught up quickly with that film’s stateside haul. The reboot, which arrived in Chinese cinemas Feb. 28, added $6.9 million to its tally in the week ending Sunday. It has now taken in $48.7 million from mainland theaters, Artisan said, whereas the movie’s domestic tally stands at about $56 million.

Peter Jackson’s latest installment in the Hobbit series is finishing out its Chinese run, taking in $3.6 million for the week for the No. 3 spot and bringing its total to $74.5 million.  Fourth place went to the Robert De Niro-Michelle Pfeiffer picture “The Family” and the No. 5 spot was grabbed by the Chinese production “The Old Cinderella”; both titles took in less than $3.5 million.

Total mainland box office for the week was $50.2 million and year to date, Chinese box office receipts stand at $1.078 billion, Artisan data showed.