Transformers movie poised to overtake Avatar as box office champion in China

Transformers: Age Of Extinction is set to dethrone Avatar as the highest grossing movie ever to be shown in China after it crossed the 1-billion yuan ($200-million) mark in box-office takings last Thursday, Chinese reports said. -- PHOTO: UIP
Transformers: Age Of Extinction is set to dethrone Avatar as the highest grossing movie ever to be shown in China after it crossed the 1-billion yuan ($200-million) mark in box-office takings last Thursday, Chinese reports said. -- PHOTO: UIP

BEIJING - Transformers: Age Of Extinction is set to dethrone Avatar as the highest grossing movie ever to be shown in China after it crossed the 1-billion yuan (S$200-million) mark in box office takings last Thursday, Chinese reports said.

As of last Friday night, the fourth instalment in the alien-robot franchise had taken in more than 1.1 billion yuan, an amount reached in eight days after its June 27 opening, according to website NetEase.

Previously, the fastest Chinese movie to reach 1 billion yuan in China, taking 15 days, was Stephen Chow's 2013 film Journey To The West, said Sina.com.

James Cameron's Avatar reportedly achieved 1 billion yuan in 37 days in 2009 and it remains China's box office champion with 1.3 billion yuan.

The Transformers movie had earned 630 million yuan in its opening weekend on the mainland, almost equal to its US$100 million (S$125 million) ticket sales in North America, and leaving No. 2-ranked movie The Breakup Guru, a domestic romance which debuted on June 27, far behind.

It has broken several records in China, including the biggest opening of 200 million yuan, compared with the previous 122 million yuan set on Feb 1 by The Monkey King, starring Donnie Yen, reported Xinhua news agency.

NetEase said the new movie looked likely to achieve more than the 1.8 billion yuan earned by the previous three Transformers movies in China. The third movie, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, pulled in 1.08 billion yuan in 2011.

The Chinese elements in the latest sequel gave Transformers 4 an added edge, said Rao Shuguang, deputy director of the Beijing-based China Film Art Research Center, in a Xinhua story.

It stars Chinese actress Li Bingbing (above) and pop idol Han Geng and contains scenes shot in Chongqing municipality in south-west China and in Hong Kong.

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