Cast member Vin Diesel poses at the premiere of "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California U.S., January 19, 2017.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Cast member Vin Diesel poses at the premiere of "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California U.S., January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Fabricated City was the real deal for South Korean audiences over the weekend. Park Kwang-hyun’s long-awaited f0llow-up to his 2005 comedy smash Welcome to Dongmokol built a box office tally of US$8.5 million.

Perfectly targeted for the world’s most online nation, the story of a champion online gamer (played by Ji Chang-wook) who is framed for murder, this CGI-heavy action film hit the cyber sweet spot on the weekend to claim the top score.

After its takeover of the Korean box office during the Lunar New Year holiday, Confidential Assignment dropped to second place. Even so, Kim Sung-hoon’s blending of North/South Korea tensions with a 48 Hours format of comedy and spy thrills, continued to draw audiences. Taking a total of US$4million over the weekend, Confidential Assignment has so far taken in US$52 million.

The Korean debut of Vin Diesel vehicle xXx: Return of Xander Cage, with its story of satellites dropping to Earth, shot up to number three with a weekend gross of US$2.7 million. Diesel leads a cast of shooting stars from across Asia (Hong Kong’s Donnie Yen, Thailand’s Tony Jaa, India’s Deepika Padukone and Kris Wu from China – via Canada), but the film might have picked up some extra won if it found a space for a Korean actor.

No doubt in partial thanks to the aforementioned contribution by Donnie Yen, xXx: the Return of Xander Cage proved much more popular in China. On an express trip to number one, Diesel’s high-octane action film took on board a Mainland gross of US$61.8 million over its opening weekend.

Take a deep breath…

At number two, while it hasn’t yet gone into full shavasana, Jackie Chan’s Kung Fu Yoga has relaxed its box office performance since the end of the Chinese New Year holidays, taking an extra US$4.6 million over the past weekend to reach US$230.7 million.

Han Han’s Duckweed continued to tread water in the number three position, taking US$4.3 million from audiences over the weekend to make a tally of $130.9 million. Debuting at number four on the Mainland charts, China/Hong Kong co-production dish Cook Up A Storm served more than 583 thousand ticket holders to get a weekend gross of US$12.3 million. Featuring Nicholas Tse in a fanciful spin-off from his real life cooking show Chef Nic, the film also stars Korean TV star and K-popster Jung Yong-hwa as the pair play at being rival chefs in a fictional international cook-off.

While rivals faced off in China, Partners reunited in Japan. The latest movie in a spin-off from a popular TV Asahi show that’s been running since 2002, Partners: The Movie IV claimed the number one spot at the Japanese box office, with a take of US$3.5 million. While the latest instalment, about master criminals demanding a ransom for 50,000 hostages, may have outpaced the openings of previous sequels, final cumulative grosses for each chapter have demonstrated the principle of diminishing returns. The real surprise will be if Partners IV can outperform its predecessors in the long run.

The other local newcomer to Japan’s box office this week was Survival Family, which took the number two slot with US$1.4 million. The latest film from Yaguchi Shinobu the director of Wood Job!, Survival Family is a science fiction comedy featuring Kohinata Fumiyo as a family man who leads his clan on an escape from Tokyo following a worldwide electrical outage.

Reminiscent as it is of the Fukushima experience, Survival Family is unlikely to have the sustained pulling power of Your Name or In This Corner of the World. The latter, which opened on 63 screens last November, is now playing on 289 screens. It passed the US$17.5 million mark on February 12.