China box office: 'Monster Hunt' hits $331 million, may surpass 'Furious 7'

China box office: 'Monster Hunt' hits $331 million, may surpass 'Furious 7'
A scene from director/animator Raman Hui's movie, "Monster Hunt." Shown is Wuba, the infant heir of the monster race. (Edko Films)

Starved for new choices at theaters as China's annual blackout period for foreign films stretched into its 7th week, mainland moviegoers continued to flock to "Monster Hunt" last week. With a total gross of $331 million, the movie is now the No. 2 film of all time at the Chinese box office.

The animated/live-action hybrid, directed by Hong Kong native Raman Hui -- a longtime DreamWorks Animation employee – added $39.7 million to its haul and is now just about $65 million short of the $395-million tally racked up this spring by Universal Pictures’ “Furious 7,” data from film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway showed Tuesday. "Monster Hunt" will be in theaters through Sept. 16.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction," has slipped to the No. 3 all-time highest grossing film.

"Pancake Man," another mid-July release, retained the No. 2 spot, earning $13 million in the seven days ending Sunday. The Wanda Pictures production has now earned a total of $177 million and become China's 10th highest-grossing picture ever, Artisan said.

In third place for the week was the homegrown "Monkey King: Hero Is Back," which has surpassed "Kung Fu Panda 2" as the top-grossing animated movie in China. The film has earned $137.4 million to date.

With little new product in theaters, total box office receipts for the week dropped to $116 million – about half the earnings seen weekly in mid- to late July. The foreign blackout period is set to end Aug. 23 with the showing of "Terminator: Genisys" followed by South Korea's "Assassination"  and a Russian film, "The Dawns Here Are Quiet" starting Aug. 25.

In fourth place for the seven days ending Sunday was "To the Fore," a bike-racing film directed by Hong Kong's Dante Lam that arrived in theaters Thursday. It took in $11.7 million its first four days in cinemas.

Rounding out the top 5 was action director Ringo Lam's "Wild City," his first feature film in a dozen years, which earned $7.6 million for a cumulative gross of $21.8 million.

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