“Chinese Doctors” gave a shot in the arm to a sluggish weekend at the Chinese box office, coming in first with sales of $44.4 million, according to Maoyan data.
The patriotic tear-jerked had little competition: only other patriotic films, children’s animations and youth-centric programming are currently in theaters.
The Wuhan-set pandemic film from Bona Film is the most commercial of a slew of blockbusters intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party, and has grossed $138 million so far. Some $5.5 million of those sales came from Imax screens, $2.2 million of which rolled in this weekend, the company said.
In a slow week with no breakout new releases, the latter two films nevertheless remained in the top ten, coming in fifth and tenth this weekend, grossing $2.6 million and $593,000, respectively.
In second place this week despite a Saturday debut was technicolor Chinese musical “The Day We Lit Up the Sky.” Directed by Zhang YIbai (“My People, My Country,” “Fleet of Time”) and Han Yan, the film stars Peng Yuchang (“An Elephant Sitting Still,” “Leap”), Zhang Youhao, and total newcomer Xu Enyi. It grossed $11.9 million.
Chinese viewers have historically not had many opportunities to take in homegrown musicals, as the genre is still largely unexplored in the country. The film features numerous scenes of large groups of actors performing coordinated dance moves reminiscent of the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony.
“Master Ji Gong,” a new animation directed by Liu Zhijiang (a producer on “Monkey King: Hero is Back”) and Qiao Yu, punched its way to a third place debut, grossing $3.86 million. It was trailed by fourth place “Hi, Brother,” a new local comedy that grossed $3.24 million.
Sixth and seventh place both went to local animations, both of which debuted last week. “New Happy Dad and Son 4: Perfect Dad,” another installment in a series of adaptations of a classic cartoon for new audiences, grossed $2.54 million its second weekend. Fantawild’s original story “Realm of Terracotta” grossed $1.4 million.
No other titles broke the $1 million mark.
July is a key movie-going month in China, but this year, box office figures have been slowing since June. The total national box office this weekend was $74.8 million, less than the $104 million gross of the comparable July weekend in 2019.