China Box Office: ‘The Farewell,’ ‘Richard Jewell’ Fail to Unseat Local Holdovers

Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” and Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” both flopped in China with dismal $261,000 and $212,000 opening weekends, respectively, according to data from Maoyan. 

Although “The Farewell” was distributed directly by Maoyan, one of China’s biggest online ticketing platforms, the critical darling made a paltry $78,000 (RMB537,000) on opening day Friday. Screenings were on average only 0.5% occupied, the platform’s own data shows.

The poor showing comes just after the Lulu Wang-helmed film won Awkwafina the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy and received a nod in that race for best foreign language film. Its failure to hit home in China recalls the “Crazy Rich Asians” phenomenon in 2018. “Asians” reaped $238 million stateside and was hailed as a milestone for Asian American representation, but grossed just $1.65 million in Mainland China, where many found it overly stereotypical and offensive.

An incredible 21 new titles hit theaters over the weekend, six of which were foreign — including the Dwayne Johnson vehicle “Fighting With My Family.” None of them proved breakout hits. 

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Two of these imports made it to the weekend’s top five list, but with sputtering debuts. A $3.5 million opening for shark horror thriller “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” brought it to fourth place, while Japanese anime “Violet Evergarden” came in fifth with $3.4 million. 

Despite an onslaught of new material, China saw a very quiet box office weekend led by three local holdover titles, with the market in a stasis awaiting a bevy of big guns set to hit cineplexes in two weeks for the Chinese new year holiday.

Chinese pet drama “Adoring” led the pack with a $8.8 million weekend haul, according to figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway. The tear-jerking collection of stories about people and their  animal companions has brought in $81.3 million since Dec. 31.

“Ip Man 4: The Finale” held strong in second place, making $8.5 million in its fourth weekend in theaters to bring its total up to $148 million. It was recently granted an extension to run for an extra month. Trailing it in third was Chinese thriller “Sheep Without a Shepherd,” a remake of the 2013 Indian film “Drishyam.” It earned $8.0 million over the weekend for a $149 million cumulative.

By early Monday evening, “The Farewell” languished far below, ranking 17th at the box office behind “Richard Jewell.” The latter has received a limited release in the country via China’s National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas.

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