Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The Stephen Chow-directed action comedy scored RMB 76.85M ($12.3M) on its opening day February 10 during the Chinese New Year holidays, the biggest first day for a local production in history. Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons took in $93.5M during its first week, a record for any film in the territory — local or foreign — and reached $100M in receipts in eight days, also the fastest ever to the mark. The pic was one of the first two films released by the nascent Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, the Greater China film division of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group. VRPA co-produced the pic with Bingo Movie Development, Chinavision Media Group and Edko Films. It also has grossed $3.1M in Hong Kong, ranked No. 2 behind A Good Day To Die Hard; $2.56M in Taiwan; $2.3M in Malaysia and $1.4M in Singapore. The other VRPA title, Say Yes!, a Chinese-language remake of the 1991 Fuji TV drama 101st Marriage Proposal, grossed $7.5M on Valentine’s Day, a record for a romance movie. Valentine’s Day has become the highest-grossing day in China’s annual box office — this year it hit $32.1M, a single-day record. Village Roadshow Pictures Asia says it’s the first foreign co-producer to capture the top two box office spots in China at the same time. Next up for the company is Man Of Tai Chi, directed by and starring Keanu Reeves.
China Daily reported that the Spring Festival holiday, which ran February 9-15, set an industry record of $121M. Among the U.S films in release, Cloud Atlas has rung up $25.6M since January 31, Skyfall has amassed nearly $64M, and Jack Reacher made $2.7M on its opening day. The Chinese box office has achieved an average annual growth of by 30% in recent years, driven in part by a massive proliferation of cinemas, now with more than 9,600 screens.