Box office in China: 1921 walks up to $ 21.4 million on opening weekend

The two new Chinese propaganda films topped the box office in their first weekend in theaters, but it looks like the politically correct content might not prove popular enough to generate sales at blockbuster levels. .

Most of the biggest local blockbusters that are expected to hit China over the rest of the year are propaganda headlines. Although analysts believe China will retain its crown of the world’s largest film market this year, some wonder if its annual gross might suffer from a surplus of ‘main melody’ political films and fewer Hollywood masts as the US operating sector is recovering. post-COVID.

China’s cumulative box office this weekend was just $ 44.9 million, down significantly from the comparable weekend of 2019, when Maoyan figures show it hit 120 million of dollars. These heights were made possible by the blockbusters “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and Herman Yau Hong Kong actor “The White Storm 2: Drug Lords”, as well as the animations “The Secret Life of Pets 2” and “Spirited Away”.

“1921” was developed as a tribute to the Communist Party on Thursday, July 1, its centenary anniversary. It features some of China’s most viral young stars with the aim of drawing young viewers to cinemas to experience a slice of state-sanctioned and highly controlled Communist Party history.

This weekend, the historic propaganda drama “1921” peaked at the Chinese box office with just $ 21.4 million three-day weekend, according to consulting firm Artisan Gateway.

Supported primarily by Tencent Pictures, the film debuted Thursday for an opening day of $ 13 million and has grossed $ 45.4 million cumulative so far, the consultancy said.

In contrast, last October the omnibus film “My People, My Homeland” – another propaganda film created in homage to the Party on the politicized National Day, which also debuted on a Thursday – grossed $ 125 million. on his first three-day weekend. , despite hitting at a time when audiences remained much more reluctant to return to theaters in the wake of COVID-19.

Despite its potentially poor numbers, a handful of foreign companies have acquired “1921” for distribution in English-speaking countries such as the United States (Smart Cinema) and the United Kingdom (Trinity Filmed Entertainment), with release dates still outstanding.

In second place this week was Enlight Pictures’ tribute film “The Pioneer”, which also debuted on Thursday. It grossed $ 8.4 million over the weekend, after a weaker opening day of $ 2.56 million.

Directed by Xu Zhanxiong (“Wild Grass”), it stars Zhang Songwen, frequent collaborator of Lou Ye, as Li Dazhao, founder of the Communist Party. Former variety show competitor Li Yifeng (“Mr. Six”) appears alongside him as a young Mao Zedong.

Both propaganda films are probably too politically charged to be allowed to become major bombs. If they did not achieve some box office success, it would reflect badly on the Party at a politically key moment.

Exceptionally, and perhaps revealingly, the Maoyan ticketing platform declined to release its forecast for the expected total run-up of either propaganda headline – as it typically does within hours of starting a campaign. other films. The Douban platform also disabled the user rating feature for both films, a clue that has a huge influence on the decision of viewers to attend.

Imax made $ 1.5 million from the two political films this weekend, including $ 1.3 million from the most popular “1921”.

There were few strong new titles released in June, allowing “1921” and “The Pioneer” to enter the box office fray with little competition.

The other top-five movies this week were all throwbacks.

Although the Taiwanese romantic comedy “Man in Love” and “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” debuted in China on June 11, the smaller Taiwanese title enjoyed greater success despite its lower budget and production values. .

“Man in Love” came in third place, with gross income of $ 3.1 million for a total of $ 35.5 million, Artisan Gateway said. It was neck and neck this week with “Peter Rabbit,” which also grossed $ 3.1 million, bringing his total to $ 27.5 million.

In fifth place was the sports drama comedy “On Your Mark,” which grossed $ 1.5 million and has now grossed $ 21.1 million.

China’s cumulative box office this weekend was just $ 44.9 million, down significantly from the comparable weekend of 2019, when Maoyan figures show it hit 120 million of dollars.

Despite a strong increase at the start of the year thanks in large part to historically huge Chinese New Year sales, the total domestic box office for this year is $ 4.31 billion, compared to $ 4.88 billion at the same. moment in 2019.

As of June of this year, there were six notable foreign releases, including “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”, “Men in Black: International”, “Spirited Away”, “Toy Story 4” and “Spider-Man: Far From. Home, ”as well as“ Doraemon: Nobita’s Chronicle of the Moon ”and“ Spirited Away (2001) ”in Japan.

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