A bored China Propels box office sales to a record

Millions of people are stranded in cities around China during this Lunar New Year holiday, as coronavirus restrictions have halted a travel season that is usually the world’s largest annual migration. Instead, they are venturing into films – and powering a resurgent revival at the box office.

“Detective Chinatown 3”, the latest installment in a long-running soldier series that monitors ticket sales in the country, is estimated at over $ 397 million over three days, according to Maoyan. Which set a world record for the biggest opening weekend in a single market. The previous record-holder, “Avengers: Endgame”, made a $ 357 million turnover over its weekend in the United States and Canada in 2019.

The strong performance was a powerful reminder of the power of the Chinese consumer. While China’s economy has begun to roar again as the country has largely decimated the coronovirus, slowing shoppers and filmmakers to open their wallets.

Now, people like Sophia Jiang are ready to spend even on a film tepid reviews.

On Lunar New Year holiday, Ms. Jiang, a 40-year-old freelance writer, usually goes to her hometown in the northern province of Jilin with her parents. But the authorities Banned This year on a visit to ancestral homes to prevent outbreaks of any coronovirus. Pictures circulating on Chinese social media showed empty rail cars at a time when passengers were usually kept shoulder to shoulder.

Trapped in the southern city of Shenzhen, Ms. Jiang has gone to the movies three times during her seven-day vacation, which ends on Wednesday. “Detective Chinatown 3,” she said, was the worst of the bunch.

“The story wasn’t that bad,” Ms. Jiang said, “but it wasn’t particularly surprising, and I slept twice.”

Quality aside, China’s bang box office returns have offered a promising sign for the global film industry, which has seen and been theatrical of movie theaters big and small. Worried about About the future of the film.

According to local box office trackers, as of Tuesday morning, China’s total box office gross for the new year was $ 1.55 billion. In contrast, last year’s total ticket sales in the United States, where there are many theaters Hanging to survive, A total of $ 2.2 billion.

“Some people have argued that during the epidemic, people have become accustomed to watching online entertainment at home,” Jane Shao, president of Lumière Pavilions, a Chinese movie theater chain, said in a telephone interview. “But I think this is evidence that movie theaters are an effective venue for social gatherings.”

Ms Shao, who oversees 40 theaters in 26 cities in China, said the Lunar New Year box office returns were “night and day” compared to last year, when the virus outbreak in Wuhan led the government to close theaters. The beginning of the holiday. Recovery had slowed down, she said, but recent numbers have been encouraging.

“It was a disastrous year for our industry, but people are thrilled to be back in theaters,” Ms Shao said.

“Detective Chinatown 3” was initially slated for release during last year’s holiday. China’s theater for the most part Reopened in July, But most have been limited to 75 percent seating capacity on this month’s holiday, and only 50 percent in areas such as Beijing, which have seen small outbreaks recently.

Theaters have been instructed not to sell concessions, to eat into further profits. Movie ticket prices on holiday were higher than usual, helping to bridge the gap.

The film stars two blown detectives, played by Wang Baokiang and Liu Haran, who travel to Tokyo to investigate the murder of a powerful businessman. Online, viewers criticized its excessive product placement advertisements, scenes of abuse against women and scattered plots. But the film benefited from the strong brand recognition of the “Detective Chinatown” franchise.

The Lunar New Year holiday has traditionally been an iconic window for film release, and the filmmakers had a more diverse selection to choose from than previous years. Coming in second at the weekend was “Hi, Mom,” a time-travel comedy that, according to Moyan, was $ 161.9 million. The adventure film “A Writer’s Odyssey” took third place with $ 48.4 million.

Classical music critic 41-year-old Rudolf Tang said he had seen all three. But he said he feels particularly compelled to watch “Detective Chinatown 3” partly because he remembers seeing the film’s poster at the front of Shanghai’s historic Grand Cinema at the height of China’s coronovirus outbreak a year ago Aaya, when there was a general uproar, the streets were evacuated and theaters closed.

Mr. Tang said in a telephone interview, “The film brought back a lot of memories of the hardship people went through.” “I felt like I’m making the statement that the scar has healed in China and people can now return to theaters and watch movies.”

Last year, box office revenue totaled $ 3.13 billion in China, making it the world’s largest film market ahead of the United States. But it is unclear whether the initial momentum of the Chinese film industry this year could overtake its performance in 2019, when it invested $ 9.2 billion in sales.

China’s box office success will partly depend on Hollywood’s pace of recovery. Although domestic productions have increased, China still has a huge appetite for Hollywood films, and many theater managers are hoping that the latest Bond films like “No Time to Die,” and Disney’s “Black Widow” Stay on the title schedule Theatrical release later this year.

It is also unclear what the unique circumstances of this year’s Lunar New Year holiday would have played in the weekend’s impressive box office performance. Was air travel Down 72 percent According to Chinese state media, in the first week of the holiday travel period compared to the same period last year. Train journey was down 68 percent In the first two weeks of the travel season compared to the previous year.

Nevertheless, the phenomenon of going to the movies on the Lunar New Year holiday seems to be here.

“Lunar New Year celebrations in China have traditionally meant setting firecrackers, eating dumplings and watching the Spring Festival gala,” said Yin Hong, a film professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “Now, more and more, going to the movies with family is being incorporated into that tradition.”

Coral Yang and Liu Yi contributed to the research.

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