• Box Office

China Box Office December 4, 2022

IMAX is going to benefit enormously from China’s release of Avatar: The Way of Water. According to The Hollywood Reporter, its CEO Richard Gelfond addressed the Wells Fargo TMT Summit last Tuesday and predicted huge returns at the box office going by the presales numbers and the performance of the first Avatar in 2010 which earned $200 million in China. When that film was rereleased in China last year earning an additional $57 million, the IMAX returns were 30% of the opening weekend gross. It still remains the highest-grossing film of all time.

While Gelfond wouldn’t give any details of the presales numbers, he did say, “It’s one of the highest pre-sale levels we’ve ever seen. So I’m extremely excited about Avatar getting into China.” He credits the original’s release for the expansion of IMAX cinemas in all territories, especially Asia.

China’s ‘zero-covid’ policy is apparently going to be relaxed after mass demonstrations protesting draconian lockdowns erupted, with some Chinese even demanding the ouster of Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China. It remains to be seen if box office grosses will be positively impacted, especially for The Way of Water given its huge production budget.

Perhaps a good sign is a viral video making the rounds on the platform WeChat with protestors chanting, “I wanna see a movie.” According to THR, “The statement appears to be a reflection of one of the many everyday privileges that some in China feel they have lost as the third year of the pandemic wears on, with no end to Beijing’s COVID-zero policy in sight. “Everyone was forced to give a final roar: I wanna see a movie!” wrote the head of one of China’s major theater chains on WeChat on Monday, in a post including the protest video.”

The Way of Water opens on December 16 worldwide, including in China.

But until then, the Chinese box office continues in the doldrums. Here are the top ten films for the weekend of December 2-4.

The No.1 film on the list is One Piece Film: Red, a Japanese animated film that is the 15th in the One Piece franchise. This musical fantasy is based on the manga of the same name and is directed by Goro Taniguchi. It opened in July and has made $180 million worldwide already. Its gross in China is $11.05 million over 4 days – it was released on Thursday.

At No. 2 is another Japanese animated film Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween, which slipped one spot from last week.  It has grossed $20.40 million over 17 days, taking in $1.88 million over the weekend. The mystery film directed by Susumu Mitsunaka is also based on a manga series and is the 25th iteration of the Case Closed franchise.

The Tipping Point, directed by David Lam, fell to No. 3 with $0.97 million over the weekend for a total gross of $22.31 million over 24 days. The film is a crime thriller based on a real-life story where the investigation of the suspicious death of a student uncovers a web of corruption.

Farewell Beijing, directed by Quianquian Cao, came in at No. 4 and tells the story of three drifters – a businessman, a courier, and a singer – who move to Beijing without registering with the city and struggle to make a life. It earned $0.83 million in the three-day weekend for a total gross of $6.49 million over 17 days.

The patriotic film Home Coming takes the fifth spot with $233.77 million earned over 66 days, grossing $0.46 million over the weekend. The Rao Xiao Zhi-directed film is about the heroic deeds of a Chinese diplomat and a civil servant who evacuate 125 Chinese from a war-torn North African country.

In sixth place is the rerelease of Les Choristes, a 2004 French film, originally released in China in 2005. The Oscar-nominated film directed by Christophe Barratier is about a boys’ choir in France. It earned $0.38 million over the weekend.

Two US films took the seventh and eighth spots. Fall starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan has earned $3.02 million in 17 days. The survival thriller is directed by Scott Mann and tells the story of the rescue attempt of two women stranded on a 2,000-foot radio tower. Where the Crawdads Sing has grossed $0.74 million over ten days. The film, based on the bestselling book of the same name is a murder mystery starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and is directed by Olivia Newman and produced by Reese Witherspoon.

Deadly Illusions, a 2020 Russian thriller about the famous illusionists, the Romanov brothers, came in ninth earning $0.36 million in 16 days. The film is directed by Oleg Asadulin and stars Andrey Burkovsky and Pavel Chinaryov as the brothers.

Rounding out the top ten is a new entry, 2067 (renamed Subject 14 Chronical in China), an Australian sci-fi film about climate change and nuclear war released in 2020 starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ryan Kwanten and directed by Seth Larney. It earned $0.05 million in three days.