Actor Vin Diesel attends the New York premiere of The Fate Of The Furious on April 8.  Photo: Reuters / Eduardo Munoz
Actor Vin Diesel attends the New York premiere of The Fate Of The Furious on April 8. Photo: Reuters / Eduardo Munoz

Chinese action fans raced to the movies over the weekend to propel the eighth entry in The Fast and the Furious franchise – The Fate of the Furious – to the top of the mainland’s box office chart. Outperforming the US$63.5 million taken in its first weekend by the last FF movie, in 2015, the latest edition of the revved-up franchise put a record US$190.8 million in its tank in its first weekend, with a staggering US$68.9 of that total accumulated by the end of its opening day.

The phenomenal success of The Fate of the Furious puts Stephen Chow in an unusual position in the Chinese box office: second place. A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella took in a mere US$16.8 million, but as the Jeff Lau-directed Journey to the West spoof is a re-release of a 1995 Hong Kong film previously shown in China in 2014, it’s not surprising the movie’s takings are more befitting of a pumpkin than a fairy godmother’s supercharged carriage.

Third place in China was closely contested, with Kong: Skull Island slimly outperforming its nearest competitors with a weekend take of US$0.61 million. Immediately behind Kong was the live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, which took in an even US$0.6 million. Finally, though it started strong on the Friday night, the Pang Cheung-ho produced, Jason Kwan-directed, romantic comedy A Nail Clipper Romance filed off US$0.56 million from the Mainland market with its story of a Chinese American surfer (Chang Hsiao-chuan) who falls for a playful tattoo artist (Zhou Dong-yu).

The Fate of the Furious also went into overdrive in South Korea, screeching into top place with US$10.5 million. The franchise installment not only overtook Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (current total $35.2 million) and Korean crime drama The Prison (current total $20.4 million) – which films are now parked in third and fourth place respectively – but out-distanced the only Korean debut for the week, vice versa comedy Daddy You, Daughter Me, which landed in second. Kim Hyung-hyub’s adaptation of a Japanese novel about a father (Yoon Je-moon) and daughter (Jung So-min) who get body swapped just before the teenager’s first date earned US$2.1 million over the weekend.

In Japan, anime was back in full force this week as not one, but two, home-grown animes pushed American animation Sing to third place after it had sat for four weeks in the number one spot. Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter, claimed the top position from Sing with takings of US$11.8 million. Now on his 21st film in a franchise that also manages to pump out a weekly anime TV series, the pint-sized detective has opened and shut more cases that an airport customs officer.

Trailing behind Detective Conan was Crayon Shin-chan Invasion!! Alien Shiriri, which tallied just over US$3 million in ticket sales. The 25th anime in the Shin-chan series sees the five-year-old non-sequitur champion encounter an alien named Shiriri who turns the Japanese boy’s parents into children.

The only live-action newcomers to the Japanese charts this week arrived in the eighth and ninth slots. At number eight was the Japanese drama ReLife about a 27-year-old research volunteer (Nakagawa Taishi) who returns to high school after taking medication that makes him look ten years younger.

And if that wasn’t improbable enough, after touring the rest of the world to so-so results (unless you are looking at China, where it pulled in US$88.9 million), Matt Damon and his offsider Pedro Pascal arrived at number nine at the Japanese box office to once more confront the puzzle of The Great Wall, Zhang Yimou’s flashy flirtation with special effects and American scriptwriters. While not a robust debut, the film’s appeal was buoyed by playing at IMAX and other specialty venues in Japan, despite audiences appearing, like the West, to regard it as a minor attraction.