China box office sales drop amid Covid surge


Weekly box office sales in China hit their lowest level since May, as cinemas in parts of the country suspended operations amid the latest outbreaks of Covid-19.

In the week to Aug. 22, Chinese theaters’ box office receipts fell 37 percent from the previous week to 317 million yuan ($ 49 million), according to statistics from the China Film Data Information Network (link in Chinese).

According to Alibaba-owned online ticketing platform Dengta, as of August 21, 20% of theaters were closed in the market due to the Covid outbreak, leaving 8,559 theaters in operation.

The highest-grossing film of the week was the action film “Raging Fire” directed by the late Hong Kong director Benny Chan and starring Donnie Yen, grossing 150 million yuan in ticket sales, or nearly half of the total. Second and third places went to the Huayi brothers’ love film “Upcoming Summer” with 38.6 million yuan in sales and to “White Snake 2: The Tribulation of the Green Snake” by Light Chaser Animation with 36.6 million. yuan. All three films had been screened in theaters since July.

“Luca,” the latest Disney / Pixar animated film with a release date of August 20, received a mixed response from Chinese viewers and opened up to just 33 million yuan in ticket sales.

Piracy may have affected the film’s revenue in China since its release on Disney + in June, allowing the film to be made available on pirate networks. After “Soul” and “Raya and the Last Dragon”, “Luca” was the third Disney film to receive a Chinese release in one year.

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The crisis in theaters could also be attributed to the delayed release of several films due to coronavirus concerns in early August, including the highly anticipated war film by Bona Film Group Ltd. 12, as well as the war film “Sharpshooter” and the comedy “Five Water Boys”.

However, the Chinese box office could anticipate a rebound as several US contenders open this Friday, including director Shawn Levy’s new action comedy “Free Guy” starring Ryan Reynolds and Lionsgate’s “Chaos Walking” starring Tom Holland.

Contact reporter Kelsey Cheng (kelseycheng@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com)

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