China’s box office, which has experienced a remarkable recovery this year, hit a snag over the weekend. With no new releases and the quietest attendance levels since January, China’s box office only generated $25 million in revenue. This figure is the second lowest of 2023, almost on par with the second week of January when major film releases were gearing up for the Chinese New Year festivities.
However, China’s box office has mostly been on a roll since the beginning of the year. The Chinese New Year period alone generated $1 billion in revenue for cinemas, and Hollywood films have been able to return in quantity. Additionally, the summer season saw a string of successful and popular Chinese-made movies.
Despite the gloomy macro-economic picture, with China’s property crisis and changing international trade patterns, the film industry has defied the odds. Weak stimulus measures from the central government have also not hindered box office growth. According to consultancy firm Artisan Gateway, the year-to-date box office total now stands at $6.19 billion, up 75% from 2022 and only 5% shy of pre-pandemic 2019 figures.
The upcoming National Day – Golden Week holiday season will be a crucial test for the box office. Nine Chinese-produced titles are expected to be released along with a couple of imported animation titles. Among the anticipated leaders are rom-com “The Ex-Files 4,” sports comedy “Lose to Win,” animation titles “I Am Nezha 2” and “Kung Fu Tiger,” and Zhang Yimou’s crime action drama “Under the Light.”
In the latest weekend, “Dust to Dust” reclaimed the top spot in its third week of release, while “Expendables 4” weakened in its second weekend. “Dust to Dust” earned $7.6 million, bringing its cumulative total to $57.1 million. “Expendables 4” collected $4.3 million, with a cumulative total of $19.4 million.
Other notable films include summer hit “No More Bets,” which earned $2.7 million for a cumulative total of $532 million since its August release. Surprise hit “Oppenheimer” earned $2.5 million, bringing its cumulative earnings in China to $58.1 million. Additionally, “Creation of the Gods 1” earned $1.7 million, reaching a total of $364 million since its July release.
While this past weekend may have been an anomaly due to the lack of new releases, the upcoming holiday season will provide a clearer indication of the box office’s resilience in China.
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