Cast members Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson pose at the premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Los Angeles, on March 8, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Mario Anzuoni
Cast members Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson pose at the premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Los Angeles, on March 8, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Mario Anzuoni

Kong stomps all over the Beast in China

The skyscraper-climbing simian proves less popular in Japan and Korea, however

March 28, 2017 12:46 PM (UTC+8)

It took just four days for Kong: Skull Island to surpass the mainland China box office receipts from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Having taken US$80.8 million by close of business on Monday, on the back of a gargantuan US$72 million at the weekend, the skyscraper-climbing simian outstripped the $US74.7 million accumulated by the Disney picture in its first 11 days.

It’s likely Beauty and the Beast will have more staying power once the great ape’s novelty wears off and the next blockbuster comes along, but for the moment Kong’s international distributor, Warner Brothers, has plenty to beat its chest about.

Opening strongly on Friday night before easing off to settle in China’s third slot is Top Funny Comedian: The Movie. Taking just under US$7.7 million over its opening weekend, this big screen version of a TV comedy special features the popular Chinese xiangsheng (crosstalk) comedian Guo Degang mixing it up with Rowan Atkinson and boxing-champ-turned-celebrity Evander Holyfield, whose ear was once an appetizer for Mike Tyson.

While Hollywood can brag about Kong’s success in China, it had no reason to boast in Korea and Japan. Business continued to be slow, but Beauty and the Beast dominated in Korea, putting on an additional US$7.8 million to bring its cumulative tally to US$23.2 million. Kong: Skull Island, has already descended to fifth place on the Korean charts with an underwhelming tally of US$12.4 million.

Racking up weekend receipts of US$7.4 million, Na Hyeon’s The Prison is operating on par with the Disney film, although the crime drama, featuring Han Suk-kyu, seems to have welched on the promise it showed during pre-release previews. Still, it has has made a respectable, if disappointing, US$9.3 million since its premiere.

In third spot, but a long way behind The Prison in receipts, is the political corruption thriller Ordinary Person. Set in the dying days of South Korea’s pre-democratic era, Kim Bong-han’s film about a journalist (Kim Sang-ho) who discovers evidence of senior officials fabricating evidence during a 1987 serial killer investigation has recalled, for many, Korea’s runaway hit of 2003, Memories of Murder. However, in contrast to that Bong Joon-ho film, which was seen by over five million people at a time when the local box office was expanding its limits, Ordinary Person has so far has only attracted around 280,000 people and has made a mere US$1.9 million since opening last Thursday.

In Japan, Kong was not exactly king either. Debuting this week with receipts of US$3.5 million Kong: Skull Island did manage to secure more income than Doraemon the Movie, 2017: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi, which pulled in US$2.7 million in its third week. However, as the box office in Japan is calculated by attendances rather box office receipts, Kong languished in fourth position behind the perennially popular blue robot cat, which took third with its 37th cinematic outing.

Rather than Kong, king in Japan (for the second week running) was Sing. Taking US$4 million on its second weekend, Illumination Entertainment’s animated musical almost matched the US$4.8 million takings from its opening weekend. Given that last weekend also included Japan’s Monday Spring Equinox holiday, the film technically improved on its opening performance. Moana and the Legendary Sea maintained her position as second fiddle to Sing’s musical animals and this past weekend pulled in US$3.3 million in box office receipts.

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