BEIJING • Hong Kong film-maker Stephen Chow won the battle at the Chinese New Year box office on Monday, with his movie Mermaid topping two others which boasted the heavyweight star power of Chow Yun Fat and Aaron Kwok.
Figures published on Monday showed it debuting as box-office king in mainland China as 19 million Chinese went to the theatres on the first day of the holiday period.
The fantasy comedy set a new single-day record for China's homemade movies, collecting 276 million yuan (S$59 million) in ticket receipts, said website NetEase. The previous record-holder was comedy Lost In Hong Kong, with a haul of 247 million yuan last year.
From Vegas To Macau III, a comedy starring Chow, debuted in second place with 178 million yuan. Its cast includes Carina Lau, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and Nick Cheung.
The Monkey King 2 landed only at No. 3, with 170 million yuan on opening, even though it features top actor Kwok in the title role, Chinese heart-throb William Feng Shaofeng and international star Gong Li.
Total box-office receipts on Monday saw a new high for a single day by breaking 660 million yuan - a 77 per cent increase over last year's takings on day one of the Chinese New Year period.
The three movies were responsible for 94 per cent of the haul, according to figures published on a website set up last year and managed by a division of the Chinese Film Bureau, reported NetEase.
But Mermaid, which stars China's Deng Chao and Taiwan's Show Lo, failed to overtake the highest single-day total in China, recorded last April by Hollywood's Furious 7, with 346 million yuan.
On Monday, Kung Fu Panda 3, which was released late last month, was in fourth place with 20 million yuan.