Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales bypassed censorship rules about depictions of the afterlife to top the box office in China with a weekend opening of US$67.6 million.
It has since rocketed to US$90.9 million thanks to holidays this week.
The fifth instalment of Pirates franchise also docked at South Korea’s number one berth on May 24 and has so far taken in US$12.2 million.
Portrayal of ghouls and cannibals helped prevent the release of the series’ 2006 entry, Dead Man’s Chest in China. But the Beijing International Film Festival was OK’d to screen the entire series in April this year.
Then Johnny Depp and crew appeared at the new film’s world premiere at Shanghai’s Disney Resort earlier this month, so the Chinese release of Dead Men Tell No Tales looked like a done deal.
Though submitting to the Pirates onslaught, Aamir Khan’s wrestling movie Dangal maintained a strong presence at the number two position.
Pulling in around a quarter of the Pirates’ weekend bounty, Dangal was way ahead of its nearest competitors adding US$16.2 million to its pile for a current overall take of US$145.3 million.
In the Mainland’s number three spot, is God of War.
Not to be confused with the computer game franchise, this China/Hong Kong co-production features pre-handover alumni Zhao Wenzhuo (aka Vincent Zhao) and Sammo Hung as the Chinese coast’s last line of defence against even more pirates in the 16th Century.
Defeating Japanese pirates proved less lucrative than fighting undead ones; God of War has so far taken a total of US$5.8 million.
In Korea, an old favourite followed in the wake of the Pirates invasion. Just weeks after Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, the number two film at the Korean box office was Our President about one of Park’s more democratically-minded predecessors, Roh Moo-hyun.
If anything suggests South Korean film’s recent shotgun wedding with the right wing has come to an end, it’s this documentary’s US$4.8 million success at the box office.
Further down the Korean chart, enthusiasm for local crime drama The Merciless has immediately cooled.
Despite bagging a Midnight Screening at Cannes last week, Byun Sung-hyun’s film about a gangster who makes a bloody bid to rule the underworld, dropped from second position to number four.
With less than a million dollars worth of weekend ticket sales, The Merciless is currently sitting on a cumulative total of US$6.2 million.
Giving Disney the Asian markets trifecta this week, Japan’s number one spot was claimed for the sixth consecutive time by the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. Taking in US$3.1million over the weekend, Beauty has accumulated US$86.9 million in Japan.
At Japan’s number two slot is the latest film from a director who has more sequels and franchises to his credit – not to mention a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination – than anyone in the world.
Unashamed of milking an opportunity, Yamada Yoji returned with What A Wonderful Family 2.
Humorously playing to national concerns about Japan’s aging population, the Hirata family is up in arms again, this time over fears that the retired patriarch is now too old to safely drive.
Drawing over 117,000 ticket buyers over the weekend, the What A Wonderful Family sequel scored US$1.1 million at the box office.
Making more money (US$1.2 million), but crucially for its third place rank, attracting less people (around 102,000) than the latest Yamada franchise, was Japanese newcomer, To Each His Own.
As this is the story of a Tokyo salaryman (Kudo Asuka) whose overly competitive life is revitalised by a free spirit from Osaka (Fukushi Sota), being narrowly beaten out for second place seems a wryly suitable result.