Darling... we've topped the China box office. To hell with the Oscars!  Photo: Screenshot from trailer
Darling... we've topped the China box office. To hell with the Oscars! Photo: Screenshot from trailer
Ooh la la…

It may not have won Best Picture at the Oscars, but La La Land did bag the top gong at the Japanese box office this week. Relegating last week’s anime champion — Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale — to number two, the Hollywood musical took in US$3.7 million.

As might be expected, previous releases such as Partners IV and One Week Friends stepped down a rung to make room for Hollywood newcomers like xXx: the Return of Xander Cage and Collateral Beauty. But the charming Your Name once again defied gravity, rising from eighth position last week to seventh. After 27 weeks in Japan’s top 10, there is obviously still life in this bewitching anime.

China’s love affair with American movies continued unabated, with the top five films all from Hollywood. Following the spectacular performance of computer game spinoffs such as Warcraft (US$213 million) and The Angry Birds Movie (US$74.6 million), films with a gamer fan base again did well at the Sino box office.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter zipped to the top of the Chinese charts and the sixth installment of this franchise has now reached a total gross of US$102.4 million. While Assassin’s Creed still fought off most opposition to win its No2 slot, the first in a planned series of movies based on Ubisoft’s top-selling game discovered Michael Fassbender’s beefcake was no match for Resident Evil star Milla Jovovich’s cheesecake. Assassin’s take so far: US$19.1 million.

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The rest of China’s top five box office attractions were, in descending order: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (current total: US$154.3 million), Sing (current total: US$24.6 million) and La La Land (current total: US$31 million).

The lower half of the weekend’s Chinese top 10 was led by Han Han’s Duckweed (current total: US$145.1 million) in fifth place, followed by Kung Fu Yoga (current total: US$242.8 million) and Boonie Bears: Entangled Worlds (US$72.6 million). This trio are the sole survivors of the Lunar New Year Chinese movie deluge.

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Rounding out the box office top 10 are more recent arrivals, 1930s gangster movie The Game Changer (US$13 million) and Sherwood Hu’s drama that combines Chinese Opera with Triads, The Lord of Shanghai (US$1.9 million).

The Americans also triumphed in Korea. Split, M Night Shyamalan’s creative comeback, had a double win: claiming pole position with a take of US$6.9 million over its opening weekend, and at the same time achieving the near impossible by trumping a Korean film featuring a major Korean star on its debut.

Admittedly, Split had help from New Trial. Kim Tae-yoon’s true-crime drama added US$1.3 million on its second weekend (current tally: US$13.7 million), also outshining Lee Joo-young’s A Single Rider, which has made just US$1.9 million since its February 22 premiere.

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Featuring Lee Byung-hun as a key figure in a major crime case who suddenly goes Awol in Australia, Single Rider failed to draw the crowds despite Byung-hun’s proven box office appeal.

And returning to the Oscars, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture gave Moonlight an instant bounce in Korea. Within hours of its spectacular triumph, the film made an extra US$47,418, nudging it into the bottom slot of the top 10. How long Korea’s curiosity about this sublime, gay-themed drama lasts will be a gauge of the Oscars’ value in a country where homosexuality largely dwells beneath the radar.