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With no ‘Star Wars’ in theaters, Chinese moviegoers flock to ‘Mojin’

‘Mojin: The Lost Legend’

Shu Qi as Shirley Yang in “Mojin: The Lost Legend.”

(Well Go USA Entertainment)

With China a black hole for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” until Jan. 9 -- the movie has been shut out of Chinese theaters until then — mainland moviegoers last week sparked to “Mojin — The Lost Legend.” The homegrown fantasy-adventure looks to be an outsize hit, selling $93 million in tickets in its first three days in theaters.

“Mojin” centers on three grave robbers who come out of retirement in New York City to take an assignment raiding ancient Chinese tombs for artifacts. The film, based on the popular novel “The Ghost Blows Out the Light” and directed by Wuershan (“Painted Skin: The Resurrection”), is likely to surpass $230 million before the end of its run, said Rance Pow, president of the film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway.

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In second place for the seven days ending Sunday was the action-adventure “Surprise,” which stunned with $17.5 million in preview ticket sales last week. But the film, inspired by the popular Monkey King classic “Journey to the West,” managed a modest $23.4 million after formally opening Friday, Artisan said.

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“Point Break,” the extreme-sports remake of the 1991 Keanu Reeves-Patrick Swayze surf film, landed in third place for the week with $7.2 million in sales. The Alcon Entertainment movie, which had substantial investment from Beijing-based DMG Entertainment, arrived in Chinese theaters ahead of its Christmas Day opening in the U.S. With $37.8 million in tickets sold so far in China, the film is on track to be the third largest “fixed fee” import title of the year, Artisan said.

“The Martian” landed in fourth place for the week with $3.6 million as it finished out its run. The film, starring Matt Damon, from 20th Century Fox has grossed nearly $90 million on the mainland, where audiences have been enthusiastic about space-themed fare in recent years.

Rounding out the top 5 films was the local production “The Master,” which has earned a total of $8 million since its Dec. 10 release.

Follow @JulieMakLAT for news from China

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