'Lion'. (Photo: Mark Rogers)

On the final leg of its international journey Lion opened in Chinese cinemas last Thursday, generating a decent sum which suggests a leggy run. 

The Garth Davis-directed drama rang up $US1.47 million in four days, ranked fifth in a market dominated by Transformers: The Last Knight, which scored $124.7 million in three days.

On Sunday the biopic starring Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara sold more than 101,000 tickets from 7,200 screenings, pocketing $460,000, at an average ticket price of $4.57.

That brings the worldwide total for the See-Saw Films production to more than $140 million, of which $51.7 million came from the US.

Lion was launched at the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival, where eight-year-old Pawar promoted the film.  "I am happy, as I've done a good job,” he said after the festival screening.

Prakash Gupta, India’s consul general of India told the China Daily that movies with Indian themes are popular in China, thanks to the break-out success of Dangal, the highest-grossing, non-Hollywood import of all time in China.

Starring Aamir Khan and directed by Nitesh Tiwari, the true-life wrestling drama has amassed a phenomenal $187.7 million in 52 days.

Gupta said he believes the suffering and struggles portrayed in the two movies has resonated with audiences.  

Chinese entertainment giant Wanda acquired the Chinese rights to Lion after taking an equity stake in the film in a deal orchestrated by the Weinstein Co.

Wanda, who owns Hoyts, is China’s leading exhibitor in box office revenues, operating more than 2,700 screens.

The 20th Shanghai International Film Festival ran from June 17-26, showcasing around 500 titles from 57 countries, at a time when Chinese movies are playing second fiddle to Hollywood imports. 

Wang Zhonglei, CEO of the Huayi Brothers studio, told the China Daily that at least eight local movies have been released each week for the past few months, but most have failed.

"Almost every weekend, Hollywood blockbusters take the lead,” he said. “The phenomenon shows that the Chinese are not cutting back on their visits to theatres but we (Chinese filmmakers) need to improve.”

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