‘The Battle at Lake Changjin II’ Surges to $105 Million Box Office on First Day of Chinese New Year Holiday

The Battle at Lake Changjin II
Bona Film Group

The Battle at Lake Changjin II” lived up to its blockbuster billing with a box office haul exceeding $105 million on Tuesday, its opening day in mainland Chinese theaters.

The film, aka “Watergate Bridge” had grossed RMB487 million ($76.5 million) by 1.30 pm, according to online ticketing agency Maoyan and Alibaba’s Beacon data service. By 10pm, its total had passed RMB667 million ($105 million).

State media has forecast that the film may propel the Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival) week to over $1 billion and that the 149-minute film could eventually become the highest-grossing film of all time in China.

To do that, it would have to surpass “The Battle at Lake Changjin” which was released on Oct. 1, 2021 and, over a prolonged run in cinemas, earned $913 million to become the second biggest film worldwide in 2021, behind “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

Despite the short interval between the two outings, there is a reasonable chance that the sequel can outperform its predecessor.

“Watergate Bridge” is similarly militaristic, similarly patriotic, and is made by the same Tsui Hark, Dante Lam and Chen Kaige directing team. It also boasts the same top stars Wu Jing and Jackson Yee.

COVID restrictions, travel patterns and competition for eyeballs from the Winter Olympics, being held near Beijing from Friday, are the limiting factors, rather than other movies.

Audience feedback, channeled through Taopiaopiao ticketing firm, rated the film 9.6 out of ten. Maoyan reported an identical score with 21,000 users expressing an opinion.

In early sessions on Tuesday, motorbike odyssey “Only Fools Rush In” directed by Han Han lay in second place and accounted for some 16% of the market, compared with the 43% for “Lake Changjin II.” “Too Cool to Kill,” the only out and out comedy releasing this season, lay in third place with 14%. “Nice View,” from “Dying to Survive” director Wen Wuye, also starring former pop star Jackson Yee lay in fourth place.

Also newly on release is “Snipers,” a film co-directed by Zhang Yimou and his daughter Zhang Mo, and three Chinese-made animation films “Boonie Bears: Back to Earth” “Dunk for Future” and “Run Tiger Run.”