"Maleficent" earned $20.3 million in its Chinese debut. Disney

Three weeks after opening in America, Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” rocketed to the top of the Chinese box office with a strong opening of $20.3 million. The dark reboot of “Snow White” became Disney’s fourth-largest debut in China, including this year’s massive “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

This weekend’s Chinese debut pushed “Maleficent” to a worldwide total of $522 million, making it Jolie’s highest-grossing live-action film to date, and her second-highest grossing film, right behind 2008’s “Kung Fu Panda,” which grossed $631 million worldwide.

Meanwhile, “Godzilla” continued to wreak havoc on the Chinese box office. Last weekend, Gareth Edwards’ update of the classic Japanese monster franchise took in $36 million, the biggest debut for distributor Warner Brothers. This weekend, numbers slowed slightly but still remained strong with $14 million in its second weekend. This weekend’s numbers push “Godzilla” to a $68.1 million Chinese total and a $477 million worldwide total.

Meanwhile, Tom Cruise’s “Edge of Tomorrow” took third place with $4.8 million. The futuristic action film underperformed in the U.S. but took in Cruise’s biggest Chinese debut with $25 million. Numbers for “Edge of Tomorrow” have slowed across the board in recent weeks, but its performance in China and other international markets are likely to push the film past $300 million worldwide by the end of its run. Cruise’s former wife, Nicole Kidman, took fourth place in the Chinese box office, as her would-be prestige film “Grace of Monaco” opened following the Shanghai Film Festival. “Grace of Monaco” was originally set for a 2013 release, but the film was pushed back until it debuted out-of-competition at Cannes last month to a uniformly unfavorable critical response. Kidman’s film still has no American release date set, though it has secured a distribution deal with the Weinstein company.

We shouldn’t expect “Maleficent” or “Godzilla”’s domination of the Chinese box office to last for long: Expect “Transformers: Age of Extinction” to blow them both out of the water next weekend. The fourth installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers series is banking on an explosive opening in China.

Paramount Studios partnered with the China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Entertainment to co-produce and partially shoot the film on the Chinese mainland, giving “transformers” a larger international appeal and a bigger cut of Chinese profits. Variety reports that some estimates put the film’s overall Chinese take north of $200 million, impressive for the U.S. but absolutely explosive for China.

“This is a movie that’s pitch perfect and tailor made for the Chinese market,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, explained to Variety. “This could solidify how important the Chinese marketplace is for the movie business as a whole.”