• Box Office

China Box Office April 22, 2023

China’s so-called Top Gun, the military film Born to Fly which was pulled from release last October when it was scheduled to open on China’s National Day, now has an April 28 release date, in time for the May Day holiday, according to Variety. The film will also begin previews in the UK on that date.

The vague “need to improve special effects” excuse, when it was pulled, was speculated online to be substandard FX and stunts or even the plagiarizing of Top Gun: Maverick which had opened worldwide in May but never in China for political reasons.

The storyline of the film deals with elite young fighter pilots in the People’s Liberation Army who test J-20s, advanced stealth fighter jets, pushing themselves and the planes beyond endurance. The film is the directorial debut of Liu Xiaoshi who previously made promos for the Chinese army. It stars Wang Yibo who started his career as a K-pop singer in the band Uniq, and Hu Jun as the leader of the team.

Japanese animated movies are huge favorites in China, most recently Shinkai Makoto’s Suzume (Suzume no Tojimari), which spent two weeks at the top of the box office charts and grossed over $100 million in a month.

The new entry this week, The First Slam Dunk, a film that was released in Japan last year, shows every sign of being a big hit as well. It opened last Thursday in China with $13.8 million; $3.6 million was earned from Wednesday previews. The final number is $50.10 million grossed by Sunday, making it the No. 1 film in the territory.

The story is about high school basketball and is written and directed by Takehiko Inoue based on his manga series. According to China Daily, the film has elicited a strong sense of nostalgia from fans born in the 1980s and 1990s, all familiar with the manga series that was introduced in China 30 years ago.

The Nintendo game-based The Super Mario Bros. Movie came in at No. 2 on Sunday, grossing $19.65 million over 18 days, with $1.68 million earned over the weekend.

However, the movie was fifth on Saturday and eighth on Friday on the charts; its success in China is minimal compared to the record numbers the film has been pulling in from other territories.

Jackie Chan’s Ride On fell to No. 3 on Sunday with $28.04 million in 16 days and $2.67 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.

Chinese drama Hachiko ended the weekend at No. 4 with $39.74 million over 23 days and $2.28 million over the weekend. 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 aforementioned megahit Suzume, the 2022 Japanese animated fantasy film, finished the weekend at No. 5, grossing $113.92 million in 30 days with a weekend take of $1.6 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.

The comedy Post Truth stayed at No. 6 and has earned $101.09 million in 44 days. Fans seem to love the story about a former thug, now a cemetery salesman, who 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.

The sci-fi comedy Journey to the West surged on Sunday to end the weekend at No. 7 with $8.95 million over 22 days. It is part of a mythological franchise and was made in 2021 but released this year. The story is about the editor of a science fiction magazine who looks for signs of an alien civilization.

At No. 8 is the Chinese period suspense movie Faces in the Crowd set in 1931, 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 $4.57 million in 9 days.

Another Japanese animated film, Detective Conan: Black Iron Submarine (Meitante Konan: Bekâ Sutorîto no bôrei), came in at No. 9, grossing $7.76 million in 19 days. It is directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa and features the voices of Minami Takayama and Rikiya Koyama. The film is the 26th movie in the Detective Conan franchise.

Rounding out the top ten is the re-release of Titanic with $8.05 million grossed over 30 days since its release on April 3.