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Chinese chick-flick dethrones 'Transformers' from atop mainland box office

MoviesLiteratureTransformers (movie)
'Transformers: Age of Extinction' will likely top $300 million before it ends its China run.
Mainland authorities often block foreign movies from debuting in July and August to 'protect' homegrown films.
The Chinese romantic comedy 'The Breakup Guru' has now earned $104 million.

A quartet of Chinese gal-pals dethroned “Transformers: Age of Extinction” from atop the mainland box office last week, as “Tiny Times 3” took in $51.8 million to claim the No. 1 ranking.

In its first three days in theaters, the third installment of author Guo Jingming’s female-centric novel adaptations has already outpaced the $48-million haul of “Tiny Times 2” from last year. The franchise has now cleared the 1-billion renminbi mark ($161 million -- the most of any Chinese film franchise, according to data from film consultancy Artisan Gateway). A fourth film is reportedly in the works.

In second place for the week ending Sunday was domestic 3-D horror thriller “The House that Never Dies.” The movie came in second with $25.8 million in its first weekend, topping 2011’s “Mysterious Island” as the most commercially successful home-grown horror film in China's history, Artisan said.

Paramount Pictures’ alien robots, though, still have a little life in them. The fourth installment in the “Transformers” series took in nearly $25 million in the week ending Sunday, bringing its total haul in the territory to nearly $285 million, Artisan said. The film’s run will end this week, and the movie will likely end up crossing the $300-million mark – far and away the best performance for any movie ever in China.

Mainland authorities typically reserve most of July and August for domestic releases, and this year is no different. No Hollywood films are scheduled to debut for the next several weeks, leaving the field wide open for home-grown productions.

In fourth place last week was “Old Boys: The Way of the Dragon,” a nostalgic comedy that originated as a short Internet film. The big-screen version, backed in part by Internet portal Youku, took in $12.8 million for the week, bringing its 10-day total to more than $30 million.

Rounding out the top 5 films was Enlight Pictures’ romantic comedy, “The Breakup Guru,” which has now grossed more than $104 million on the mainland, a strong performance. The movie was the only major release to go head-to-head with “Transformers” when it opened in late June, and the counter-programming strategy appears to have paid off.

Follow @JulieMakLAT for news from China

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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