China War Epic blasts holiday box office to near pre-pandemic levels


The Chinese box office rebounded closer to pre-pandemic levels during the National Day holiday week, despite declining sales on the first day and sluggish performance through the end of September due to virus outbreaks.

The big budget war epic “The Battle of Changjin Lake”, starring Wu Jing from “Wolf Warrior 2” and co-directed by Chen Kaige, Hark Tsui and Dante Lam, led the charge with over 70% of the charge. total box office.

National box office revenue increased 9% year-on-year to 3.2 billion yuan ($ 496 million) over five days on Tuesday, approaching pre-Covid 2019 figure of 3.5 billion yuan , according to the ticketing platform owned by Alibaba. Dengta.

The recovery was unexpected after falling more than 15% on Friday, the first day of the holiday, when Chinese cinemas generally achieve their best sales. But unlike The previous years, customers kept coming, and the daily box office remained above 650 million yuan for three consecutive days.

“The Battle of Changjin Lake,” a patriotic film released a day before the national holiday, has garnered 2.3 billion yuan in ticket sales so far over the holiday week to trap more than 70% of the box -total office, according to data from Dengta.

With sales this strong, movie directors are trying to schedule as many screenings of the film as possible, and on Wednesday, the production of Bona Film Group Co. Ltd. represented every other scheduled projection, according to Dengta data.

The second most popular film of the holiday season is “My Country, My Parents,” another patriot-themed production from China Film Co. Ltd., but its 761 million yuan in ticket sales is overshadowed by the box office leader.

The resumption of the National Day box office is good news for Chinese cinemas after months of sluggish sales through the various Covid-19 outbreaks of the year. Just a week before the holiday, box office receipts for the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival hit their lowest level in four years, taking just 498 million yuan, a 40% drop from before the 2019 pandemic, according to Dengta.

In end of August, box office sales hit a new low when cinemas in parts of the country suspended operations following the Nanjing virus outbreak which has spread to nearly 30 cities, including major centers like Beijing and Wuhan. According to Dengta, a fifth of Chinese cinemas were closed at the end of August.

The recovery of the industry also took place on a rocky road during the three days Dragon Boat Festival in July. It only brought in 466 million yuan, down more than 40% from returns in the same vacation in 2019 and even lower from 2018 figures.

Two major virus outbreaks also appeared near the week of the National Day. The city of Harbin in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province reported several confirmed cases more than a week ago. Not long ago, East China Fujian Province reported nearly 500 cases after an outbreak from September 10. But so far, the authorities have taken no action to curb the showing of films.

Contact reporter Manyun Zou (manyunzou@caixin.com) and editor Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)

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