Chinese Box office: "Die Hard 5" & "Resident Evil 5" Debuted Strong; "Princess" & "Upside Down" Held Up Surprisingly Well

A Good Day to Die Hard

"A Good Day to Die Hard" and "Resident Evil: Retribution" debuted in China last week, and the results for the fifth entries of both franchises were solid. Both films have underperformed in the States: "Retribution" grossed $42.3M last fall, about $20M less than the previous installment; "Die Hard 5" will likely finish around $70M, about $60M less than its predecessor.

A bright spot for both films is that their budgets are relatively modest: $92M for "Die Hard 5" and $65M for "Retribution" – that is when you compare them to $200M budgeted films like "John Carter" and "Battleship."

Another is that they're both doing well overseas. With last week's box office revenue from China, "Die Hard 5" finally crossed the $200M barrier from overseas markets. "Retribution" will likely achieve the same feat in another week; it's currently sitting at $184M. Worldwide, including U.S. grosses, the two action films have done $266M and $226M, respectively.

For the week of March 11-17, "Die Hard 5" took in $15.8M in four days, which is a million or two less than "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and "Skyfall" over the same number of days. The James Bond film ended its run in China with about $60M. "The Hobbit" will likely finish with around $50M. Based on those totals, "Die Hard 5" will probably finish in the $35M-$40M range, which is pretty good.

In second place with a surprisingly strong hold from the previous week is "Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters," a low budget martial arts comedy starring veterans Sammo Hung and Bruce Leung ("The Grandmaster"). Its total now stands at $9.2M, not bad for those two old farts.

In third with $4M is "Upside Down," a $50M sci-fi-romance starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess. Its cumulative so far is $10.9M. Worldwide, it has taken in about $20M in just a dozen countries. In limited release in the States last weekend, it took in $29K with a poor $2.6K per screen average. Based on its performance in Russia and China, it could have done decent business in America if it had a wider release and a bigger marketing push.

Stephen Chow's "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons" is fourth with $3.8M. So far, it has made $195.5M, the second highest grossing Chinese film of all time. It needs another $6M to snatch the all-time crown from "Lost in Thailand." Despite the film's extended engagement, I think it'll need another marketing push to get the record.

Debuting in fifth with $3.6M in just one day is "Resident Evil: Retribution." The Milla Jovovich starring action-horror film will likely finish in the low $30M range, based on its single day box office. Like "Die Hard 5," that's a solid return.

Rounding out the top ten are "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" ($3M, $48.6M total), "Les Miserables" ($1.6M, $9.3M total), "Stolen" ($0.8M, $6.9M total), "Fall in Love" ($0.6M, $1.8M total), and "Love Bank" ($0.6M).

Next week, we'll see how Herman Yau's "Ip Man: Final Fight" does. It's the fifth film about the Wing Chun practitioner that doesn't star Donnie Yen ("Ip Man," "Ip Man 2"), Tony Leung ("The Grandmaster"), or Dennis To ("The Legend is Born: Ip Man"). This time, character actor Anthony Wong takes on the role of the martial artist during his elder years. Yau directed a previous Ip Man film called "The Legend is Born: Ip Man." Interestingly, Ip Chun, the oldest son of Ip Man, has a role in both of Yau's films, which adds a bit of authenticity to them.

I don't expect "Final Fight" to knock "Die Hard 5" off the top position, but it could do well enough to place second. "The Legend is Born" wasn't a huge hit when it was released in 2010, but was probably profitable because it was inexpensively made. According to Box Office Mojo, it grossed $2.7M in Asia, but that doesn't include China. If I remember correctly, it made about $4.5M there, but don't quote me on it. With interest in the character heightened recently by Wong Kar-Wai's "The Grandmasters" and a growing market, "Final Fight" should do better.

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