• Box Office

China Box Office January 15, 2023

Avatar: The Way of Water’s China run has been extended past the usual 30-day window, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Permission has been given by the administration for another 30 days, and it will now run through the Chinese New Year holiday which is celebrated for a week starting January 22. This will put the film in direct competition with The Wandering Earth 2, a prequel to the first sci-fi blockbuster starring Andy Lau and Wu Jing that was released in 2019.

The New Year holiday has traditionally been a blackout period for imported films in China, with the goal of boosting the local industry. While Avatar 2 has already earned almost $217 million as of this weekend, it remains to be seen how much the film will continue to gross against newer films. But since director James Cameron’s films do a lot of repeat business, the extra time can only help since the Covid-ravaged country’s box office grosses have been disappointing.

There is an interesting story about a Top Gun clone that was made in China that was then never released – Born to Fly was supposed to be China’s answer to Top Gun: Maverick. The story about elite stealth fighter pilots in the People’s Liberation Army was supposed to open back in September with a trailer released and millions of yuan already earned in presales. It starred Wang Yibo who started his career as a k-pop singer. An announcement was made saying the withdrawal was due to the need to “present better production effects,” and speculation was rife on Chinese social media that the special effects were inferior to Top Gun: Maverick’s, inviting undesirable comparisons and ridicule, especially before the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress reinstated Xi Jin Ping as premier two weeks later.

Here are the top ten films for the weekend of January 13-15. The first five films remain in the same position.

Avatar 2 earned $2.88 million on Friday, $5.08 million on Saturday and $4.73 million on Sunday, for a total gross of $216.94 over 31 days.

The Chinese comedy Better Man remains at No. 2 with $39.77 million over 16 days and $5.04 million over the weekend. It is co-written and directed by Zhang Qi and tells the story of an arrogant man who is magically sent to a world where females dominate and where he is turned into a submissive househusband in order to better appreciate his wife.  The film stars Chang Yuan, Jackie Li and Wei Xiang.

Some Day or One Day, a Taiwanese romantic drama based on a television show, remains at No. 3 with $54.85 million earned over 23 days, with a total weekend take of $3.35 million. It tells the story of two people who searched for each other over several past lives and have one more chance for a happy ending. The film stars Ko Chia Yen and Greg Hsu and is directed by Tien Jen Huang.

Dreamworks Animation/Universal’s sequel Puss in Boots: The Last Wish stays at No. 4, earning $4.85 million over 24 days, with $1.15 million over the weekend. The voice cast includes Antonio BanderasSalma Hayek and Florence Pugh, and the film is directed by Joel Crawford.

The Japanese animated film, Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween stays at No. 5 earning $28.77 million over its 59-day run with $0.76 million over the weekend.

Two Japanese animated films, One Piece Film: Red and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero came in at Nos. 6 and 7 with total grosses of $26.56 million over 46 days and $1.40 million over 10 days, respectively.

The Chinese animated action film, A Wiz Named Wukong stays at No. 8 with $1.01 million over its 17-day run; the Netflix film, The Man From Toronto, starring Kevin Hart is at No. 9 with $0.41 million over its 24-day run (there is no Netflix in China); and the 2016 Indian legal thriller starring superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Pink, rounds out the top 10 with $0.33 million in 10 days.