For the second straight week, Life of Pi has claimed the top spot at the Chinese box office. Ang Lee's film is riding strong word of mouth and social buzz in China, and it translated to $26.9 million during its second week. Through 11 days, the film has tallied $43 million in China. That figure puts Life of Pi at #32 on the all-time Chinese box office chart, moving ahead of John Carter of Mars ($41.7 million), The Smurfs ($41.2 million) and Fast Five ($40.5 million).
Back to 1942 posted a solid debut in the #2 spot with $21.3 million after just four days of release. The film about an overlooked Chinese famine during 1942 stars Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins.
Also opening last week was The Last Supper, a film about the Chu-Han Contention period of Chinese history. The historical movie opened to $6.2 million after four days of release.
The 3D conversion of 2012 fell to $4.57 million this week and has now grossed a total of $18.3 million in China.
Cold War rounds out the top five as it dropped from its $7.6 million weekend last week to $2.39 million this week. The Chinese total now stands at $39.2 million.
Fox China reports that with the success of Life of Pi in China over the past two weeks, it's no surprise that the film is now partly responsible for inspiring a growing amount of social buzz throughout the country. And not just over the film, but about India itself. The same applies in Taiwan, home of director Ang Lee, where the film is also doing quite well.
Among the subjects buzzing around Chinese blogs are the city of Pondicherry and the Bengal tiger. The film has opened a window to Indian culture.
The China-Canada Gateway for Film Competition, part of the Whistler Film Festival in Canada, has been making strides in helping Canadian filmmakers team up with Chinese film production studios. News over the weekend revealed that the campaign has become a significant success already with at least eight filmmakers in talks to team up with Chinese production companies. The contracts could be worth as much as $5 million.
Said WFF managing director Jane Milner, "We set out to be a gateway between Canada and China for the film business and I think we've done that," she said. "My goal is that if you want to do business with China, you have to come here."
After purchasing AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion back in September, the Dalian Wanda Group has its sights set on pushing further into the American film business.
Chairman Wang Jianlin confirmed that they are moving toward a deal with major North American studios that could result in a new co-production studio between China and America. Plans are for productions to be under way by the summer of 2016 at Wanda's planned production facility based out of northeastern China.
Additionally, the Dalian Wanda Group plans to spend $500 million renovating AMC's 4,865 screens at 338 theaters in the immediate future. Wang confirmed that 60 percent of the theaters have now converted to digital projection as part of those planned upgrades. He also reports that AMC will turn a profit of $20 million to $30 million this year, a significant turn-around from the chain's recent debt-laden history.
In China, Wanda operates 5,900 screens (all digital). They aim to reach $32 billion in revenue by 2015.
Monday (12/3) Update: 20th Century Fox confirms today that Life of Pi performed significantly better over the weekend than already estimated on Sunday. The Ang Lee-helmed pic took in $13.77 million for a new cume of $40 million.
Sunday (12/2) Update: 20th Century Fox estimates that Life of Pi grossed another $11 million in China during its second weekend, down just 15 percent from its strong debut last week. That would put the Chinese cume at $38.5 million.
Ang Lee's native Taiwan saw the film increase an impressive 47 percent over its opening to $2.58 million this weekend and a tally of nearly $6 million there.
Monday Update: 20th Century Fox reports that Life of Pi actually earned $16.1 million in China during its debut frame. 400 theaters were not included in the estimate that was released on Sunday.
Sunday Update: Life of Pi is off to a great start in China. 20th Century Fox estimates that Taiwan native Ang Lee's drama already has $10.5 million in the bank from 4,500 3D screens.