'Hobbit' tops China box office with $51 million in first weekend

'Hobbit' tops China box office with $51 million in first weekend
Director Peter Jackson, left, points at a red stamp with the words "Peter the Great" in Chinese calligraphy with the words for "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" as actor Richard Armitage looks on during a news conference in Beijing on Jan. 19. (Ng Han Guan / Associated Press)

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" proved a major hit at the Chinese box office last week, earning $51.5 million in its first three days on the mainland.

The opening-weekend take for Peter Jackson's final installment in the trilogy was the best-earning in the series, and exceeded the total gross of the first film, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure," which pulled in $51 million over its entire China run in 2013, said Rance Pow, president of film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway.

"Five Armies'" three-day China opening outpaced that of the 2014 hits "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," both of which earned almost $38 million on their opening weekends and went on to gross more than $115 million each on the mainland.

But "Five Armies" was still far short of the "Transformers: Age of Extinction" China opening, which hauled in $92.1 million over its first three days last summer and went on to become the top-earning film in mainland China of all time.

The second movie in the J.R.R. Tolkien series, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," earned $33.4 million when it opened last year in mainland China, and it grossed a total of $74.8 million. "Five Armies" should easily outpace that performance.

The Warner Bros. film knocked the comedy "Miss Granny" -- a Chinese remake of a South Korean movie -- to second place. To date, "Granny" has earned $52.7 million, making it the highest-grossing co-production between the two countries to date.

Legendary Pictures’ “Seventh Son,” which opened in China ahead of its U.S. debut, pulled in $9.8 million in its second week in theaters, coming in No. 3 at the box office in the seven days ending Sunday and bringing the total for the Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes film to $26.4 million.

Tsui Hark's blockbuster war film, "The Taking of Tiger Mountain," is finishing its run and has taken in $141 million since its debut Dec. 23.

"Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," dropped to fifth place last week. The 20th Century Fox movie has earned $44.4 million on the mainland.

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