China Has Biggest Ever Day At Box Office

China Has Biggest Ever Day At
Courtesy of Bingo Group

China recorded its biggest ever day of theatrical takings on Monday, the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Gross takings amounted to RMB660 million ($100.5 million) according to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. The previous highest day was July 18, 2015 according to the bureau, when takings hit RMB425 million.

Topping the chart was Stephen Chow’s “The Mermaid,” which earned $40.5 million (RMB270 million) according to the SAPPRFT. Local box office tracker Ent Group, showed that “The Mermaid” enjoyed 73,400 screenings at the nation’s theaters.

In second place was “The Man From Macau 3” (aka “From Vegas to Macau 3”) directed by Wong Jing and starring Chow Yun-fat. It achieved $25.9 million from 57,500 screenings.

Third was Soi Pou-cheang’s “The Monkey King 2” with $24.6 million from 55,800 screenings.

Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year and Spring Festival in different parts of Asia) has in the last couple of decades become a peak cinema going time for Chinese. This year the first day of the holidays began on Monday, which mean that many people had travelled earlier last week or over the weekend to be with their families. That allowed Monday (Feb. 8) to be a big day for the cinema and three major films – all China-Hong Kong co-productions — were released simultaneously.

Film industry regulators have also sought to use the period to maximize returns for Chinese-language films, and the extended holidays are covered by an extended “blackout period” when foreign titles cannot be given new releases.

The three newcomers almost completely halted the progress of “Kung Fu Panda 3,” which had released 10 days earlier. In fourth place it earned $2.91 million from 9,200 screenings. It now stands on an 11 day cumulative of $106 million.

That dramatic slide means there is real doubt as to whether “Kung Fu Panda 3,” a huge prestige U.S.-China co-production, will have the legs to overtake “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which came off Chinese screens on Sunday.

“Star Wars” was released on Jan. 9 and finished on $125.5 million. It dropped rapidly after a stellar $53 million opening weekend, but had little significant competition as the anticipated Chinese blockbusters all targeted the Chinese New Year crowds.

The underwhelming score for “Panda” will raise questions as to whether it should have released earlier in order to take on the slowing “Star Wars” or whether it should have avoided January and February altogether. January is usually one of the slowest months of the year at Chinese theaters. And as an official Chinese-made film, “Panda” had much more freedom to pick its own release date than any imported Hollywood movie.

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  1. Rex says:

    So, a movie from a franchise most Mainland Chinese, and a couple of generations of their ancestors, were never allowed to see makes $53 million in one weekend during China’s slowest cinema-going month, while THREE of the country’s co-homegrown productions can’t even double its haul in their CNY debuts, forcibly unchallenged by Hollwood product, and yet the latter trio are regarded as key successes simply because they succeeded in a vacuum? CNY will always be a windfall week for Mainland theatre exhibitions, but the financial figures will never truly impress as long as the films and their makers don’t actually have to compete in a fair marketplace with non-Chinese product and hold their own. At least in Hong Kong, Chinese New Year movies of past eras didn’t enjoy wholesale exclusivity yet still routinely outranked western imports at the local box office during the holiday period. In a single CITY! Sure, they didn’t rake in the kind of dough these three new pictures have, but keep releasing movies year after year in a vacuum, and in a country with an constantly-expanding middle class, and they’re all but guaranteed to generate ever bigger returns. On the plus side, at least the producers of these three new CNY ‘smashes’ knew it was wiser to put THREE Hong Kong directors at the helm, since Mainlander directors were never allowed to indulge themselves so freely back in the day.

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