• Box Office

China Box Office April 16, 2023

While The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a super hit worldwide, grossing $500 million in the international market in a week, it didn’t do that well in China, earning a so-so $17.5 million in 12 days, though it ended in second place on Sunday, moving up from lower on the list.

More proof that in China, Hollywood movies have lost their luster if they aren’t made by James Cameron or involve Jurassic animals.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves eked out $11 million in a couple of weeks and fell out of the top ten in its second week.

The re-release of Titanic is hanging on at No. 9 with $7.29 million this time around but Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile debuted in 12th place. There are no other Hollywood movies in the top 20.

Piracy seems not to be an issue as a lot of the Hollywood movies that flopped in China, including those from Marvel, opened day and date. Chinese audiences’ tastes are changing and China is releasing sophisticated homegrown content that appeals to its people.

So the meeting last week of Hollywood executives with politicians from the US House of Representatives Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (as mentioned in last week’s column) which was concerned about the appeasement of Chinese censors seemed to be all about shutting the barn door after the horse has fled.

Without a doubt, Hollywood studios will still seek to release movies in China but the returns are diminishing. Tailoring content to appease the censors seems to be a lose-lose proposition.

Here are the top ten films for the weekend of April 14-16, 2023.

Jackie Chan’s action drama/comedy, Ride On, continued to lead the box office with $23.07 million over ten days and $6.12 million over the weekend. Chan stars as a washed-up stuntman whose beloved stunt horse may be auctioned off to cover his debts. Then a fight with his debtors goes viral and he has a chance to salvage his career and reconcile with his estranged daughter. The film is written and directed by Larry Yang.

As mentioned above, The Super Mario Bros. Movie ends Sunday at No. 2 with $17.41 million over 12 days. It grossed $4.43 million for the weekend, with its best day on Saturday. Based on the Nintendo video game, it is directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic. The ensemble voice cast includes Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black and Seth Rogen.

Hachiko, the Chinese drama, ends the weekend at No. 3. The film is a family story about a faithful rescue dog who waits for its owner for ten years. It stars Joan Chen and is directed by Ang Xu. The film has grossed $35.86 million in 17 days, with a weekend take of $4.95 million, a higher three-day gross than Super Mario as it took second place on Friday.

Suzume (Suzume no Tojimari), the 2022 Japanese animated fantasy film, is a mega-hit in China and ends the weekend at No. 4, grossing $111.37 million in 24 days with a weekend take of $4.59 million. The story is about a young girl who helps a mysterious man avert disasters all over Japan. The film is written and directed by Makoto Shinkai and was released in North America on April 14.

Debuting at No. 5 is the Chinese period suspense movie Faces in the Crowd. Set in 1931, it is about a conflict between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party over a traffic station. Directed by Gordon Chang and starring William Chan, Wang Qian Yuan and CiCi Wang, the film earned $3.02 million in three days.

The comedy Post Truth fell to No. 6 and has earned $99.22 million in 38 days. In the film, a former thug, now a cemetery salesman, tries to clear the name of a woman he doesn’t know after ugly internet rumors follow her death. It is directed by Da Peng and stars Dong Chengpeng and Li Xueqin.

At No. 7 is the Japanese animated film Meitante Konan: Bekâ Sutorîto no bôrei, grossing $7.17 million in 13 days.

The sci-fi comedy Journey to the West, which is part of a mythological franchise, is No. 8 with $8.15 million grossed over 16 days. It was made in 2021 but released this year and is about the editor of a science fiction magazine who looks for signs of an alien civilization.

The re-release of Titanic is No. 9 with $7.29 million grossed over 23 days since its release on April 3.

Rounding out the top ten is the new Chinese comedy Delicious Romance about three sisters in Shanghai struggling to find their purpose. It grossed $1.43 million over two days and is directed by Lester Chen and Hsu Chao Jen, and stars Li Chun, Baby Zhang and Naomi Wang.