'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 douban.com 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.

"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.

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