• Box Office

China Box Office April 30, 2023

More Hollywood films are being scheduled for release in China even though the market is not as lucrative as it has been. Sony’s Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse and Paramount’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will open day and date – the former on June 2 and the latter on June 9.

Other upcoming releases previously announced are Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 which will open on May 5, Universal’s Fast X opening on May 17 and Warner Brothers’ The Flash on June 16.

China’s new release this weekend, Born to Fly, is doing good business on top of the charts with glowing reviews from local media. This was the film that was to be released last October but was pulled abruptly.

The online speculation was that it was withdrawn because it had shoddy FX and would be unfavorably compared to Top Gun: Maverick whose storyline it emulates.

The reviewer of Global Times, the state-controlled paper of the Chinese Communist Party, had a flattering review starting with “Fighter jets roar triumphantly as they soar through the sky during the action film Born to Fly. The sonic boom from these aircraft thundering through your chest is likely to take your breath away.”

And here’s the obligatory comparison with Top Gun from the same reviewer: “Undoubtedly, as a film in the ‘air combat’ genre, Born to Fly has been called China’s answer to US blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick, but has been negatively portrayed in Western media reporting. Compared to the commercially successful popcorn movie whose plot does not stand up to scrutiny, Born to Fly is not inferior, and may even become a new benchmark for similar films in China.”

The one US reviewer who saw the movie, Roger Moore of Movie Nation, had this to say: “Born to Fly is a straight-up Top Gun Chinese knock-off – the original, not Maverick…about test pilots testing themselves and each other as they take new airframes up into ‘the wild blue yonder’ to see if they’re worthy.”

Moore found no fault with the effects which he thought were excellent. But, “I can say the movie’s definitely got A-picture qualities, even if those are saddled to a tepid, nationalistic agitprop screenplay.”

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.

Here are the top ten movies for the weekend of April 28-30. Seven of them are new releases.

As mentioned above, Born to Fly was No. 1 with $41.02 million grossed over the three-day weekend.

At No. 2 is the new Chinese comedy Godspeed, the story of a family who takes a truck journey together where the prospective son-in-law tries desperately to win over his fiancée’s father. The film earned $32.03 million in three days. It is directed by Xiaoxing Yi and stars Yuan Chang, Chengcheng Fan and Li Ma.

Third on the charts is the new Chinese romance All These Years about a couple reuniting years after they first fell in love and parted ways. Directed by Layla Ji and starring Steven Zhang and Sun Quiang, the Mandarin-language film earned $19.08 million in three days.

Last week’s top movie, the Japanese animated The First Slam Dunk, took fourth place and grossed a total of $77.38 million over 11 days with a weekend take of $12.62 million.

The basketball-themed story is written and directed by Takehiko Inoue and is especially popular with fans familiar with the manga series on which it is based that was introduced in China 30 years ago.

Another new film, The Procurator, ended the weekend at No. 5. The detective crime story opened on Saturday and grossed $4.35 million in two days. It stars Bai Bai He, Johnny Huang and Claudia Wang and is directed by Alan Mak.

The film is based on a true story and follows a group of young prosecutors who tackle their jobs with zeal and idealism. It is a holdover from 2022.

At No. 6 is the animated feature, Racing 72H, based on a well-known animated TV series about racing competitions. It has earned $2.48 million in two days since its Saturday release. The film premiered at the Beijing International Film Festival in April.

Suzume (Suzume no Tojimari), the 2022 Japanese animated fantasy film, ended the weekend at No. 7. The megahit has grossed $116.18 million in 38 days.

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 Nintendo game-based The Super Mario Bros. Movie came in at No. 8 on Sunday with a total take of $21.44 million over 26 days. Compared to its success in the rest of the world, it has been a disappointment in China.

Flash Over, the new Chinese drama, opened at No. 9 with $3.80 million over three days. It tells the story of a rescue mission during an earthquake by firefighters battling against time and stars Du Jiang and Wang Qianyuan. It is directed by Oxide Pang.

Rounding out the top ten is the new romance fantasy Yesterday Once More. It earned $2.42 million over three days and tells the story of star-crossed lovers. It is directed by Gavin Lin and stars Arthur Chen, Tianyu Sun and Ye Zhou.