3-D fantasy romance steals Chinese filmgoers' hearts on Valentine's Day

3-D fantasy romance steals Chinese filmgoers' hearts on Valentine's Day
Actress Fan Bingbing and actor Huang Xiaoming attend a news conference for "The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom" last month in Beijing. (ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images)

"The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom" seduced Chinese moviegoers last week, racking up $36.5 million at the mainland box office as authorities kept Hollywood fare off cinema screens.

"Witch," a 3-D fantasy romance produced by Bona Film Group, was released Thursday, just ahead of China's Valentine's Day, which was celebrated Saturday. More than half of the film's $36.5-million take came on the holiday, according to figures provided Tuesday by industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway. Directed by Hong Kong helmer Jacob Cheung, the movie is a remake of a 1990s film.

"Witch" edged out another Bona Film Group production, "The Continent," a road-trip movie directed by popular blogger and race car driver Han Han. The nostalgic picture earned nearly $35.2 million in the seven days that ended Sunday, Artisan said, bringing its 11-day total to a strong $83.7 million.

Two films produced by Fujian Hengye took third and fourth place at the box office – the romantic comedy "Girls," released Wednesday, earned $17.4 million over five days, while holdover horror title "The House That Never Dies" pulled in $9.8 million for the week, bringing its total earnings to $63.9 million.

In fifth place for the week was EuropaCorp's "Brick Mansions," which earned $7.8 million in its first weekend.

In a bid to bolster the domestic film industry, mainland authorities typically keep blockbuster foreign films out of Chinese theaters in July and part of August.

Several Hollywood productions will be arriving in mainland theaters later this month, long after their stateside opening dates, including DreamWorks Animation's “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and 20th Century Fox's “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”  

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