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'Spectre' dominates China box office with $49-million opening weekend

James Bond helped push 2015’s mainland Chinese box-office receipts across the $6 billion mark last week, as “Spectre” racked up $49 million in its first weekend in cinemas.

The 007 film, which opened Friday, accounted for half of all box-office receipts, data from film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway showed. The Sony Pictures release got a boost from a publicity tour by stars Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, who held a news conference in Beijing; Craig also appeared on a television gala sponsored by e-commerce giant Alibaba to promote its annual “Singles Day” Nov. 11 shopping extravaganza, China’s equivalent of the American post-Thanksgiving spend-a-thon Cyber Monday.

The strong showing for “Spectre,” despite being released only in 2-D, put to rest doubts about Chinese audiences’ enthusiasm for Craig as Bond. Prior to the opening of “Spectre,” the popular movie-rating site found Pierce Brosnan to be the most popular 007 among Chinese viewers; Brosnan’s “Goldeneye” had the highest rating, 7.5, while Craig’s “Quantum of Solace” had the lowest rating, 6.4, of any Bond film.

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“Daniel Craig is simply less handsome than Pierce Brosnan," one Douban user said in a typical comment.

In second place for the week was “Ex-Files 2,” a local romantic comedy from Huayi Bros. that took in $17.5 million during its second week in theaters.

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” fell to third place after opening strongly Nov. 4. The young-adult movie has taken in a total of $30 million through Sunday, Artisan said.

Enlight Pictures’ Chinese romantic drama “A Journey Through Time With Anthony,” landed in fourth place, selling $6.4 million worth of tickets in its first three days in theaters.

Universal Pictures’ “Everest” took in $3.9 million for the week, bringing its gross in mainland China to $15.7 million.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” is set to open in China on Friday.

Yingzhi Yang in The Times' Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

Follow @JulieMakLAT for news from China

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