Dragons are considered auspicious in China, and DreamWorks Animation indeed found fortune last week with "How to Train Your Dragon 2." The cartoon sequel breathed some fire into the mainland box office, earning $27.1 million in its first four days in theaters and taking the No. 1 spot for the seven days ending Sunday.
The 3-D sequel scored one of the top openings ever for an animated movie, according to film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway. It took in $6.5 million on its opening day, Thursday, a bit less than the $8.7 million "Kung Fu Panda 2" earned on its first day in theaters in May 2011.
"Kung Fu Panda 2," also from DreamWorks Animation, went on to score $96.3 million at the mainland box office.
The company has set up a Chinese venture, Oriental DreamWorks, which is now working on "Kung Fu Panda 3" and an entertainment complex in Shanghai.
Despite being released in China two months after its stateside bow, "Dragon" far outpaced its competition. In the No. 2 spot was the action film "Brick Mansions," starring the late Paul Walker, with $7 million. The movie has earned $28.5 million in China, far outpacing its $20.4 million take in U.S. and Canada, where the film was released in April.
In third place was another foreign latecomer: "Pompeii," which opened in U.S. theaters in February, arrived in Chinese cinemas on Friday. It took in $6.7 million during its first three days in theaters, according to Artisan.
Two Chinese films rounded out the top five – "Brotherhood of Blades" earned about $6.3 million and "The White-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom" took in nearly $6 million, bringing its cumulative gross to $62.2 million.
China's total box office earnings for the year have now passed $3 billion — that's less than $600 million shy of 2013's total, and there are still more than four months left to go in the year.