• Box Office

China Box Office January 22, 2023

Marvel Studios China posted on its Weibo account “February 7th# The legend is not extinguished, facing the new deep-sea enemy, the upgraded visual effects, sea, land and air fierce battle ignited the big screen!” above a trailer of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Another post said “#Ant-Man and the Waspwoman: Quantum Frenzy is scheduled for February 17th#” followed by its trailer.

So after four years, the Marvel/Disney ban has been finally lifted after seven movies were not permitted to release – Black Widow, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. Spiderman: Far From Home was the last to open in 2019.

Perhaps the excellent performance at the box office of Avatar: The Way of Water, also a Disney release, despite the Covid troubles, had something to do with the lifting of the boycott as it definitely benefited the film industry. According to China Film Insider, a news website about China’s film industry, the box office split between the Chinese exhibitors and Hollywood is 75-25% for Hollywood imports and 60-40% for co-productions in China’s favor. No doubt the revenue from two possible blockbusters will be a welcome shot in the arm for the moribund industry, plagued not only by Covid closures but by the lack of imports and local government censorship of all but propaganda films.

With the start of the Lunar New Year holiday today, the peak moviegoing season for China has started with new releases entering the cinemas. As expected, The Wandering Earth 2, the prequel to the 2019 film, leads the box office.

Avatar: The Way of Water dominated the weekend on Friday and Saturday, but fell to No. 7 on Sunday in the face of the new competition. The film has grossed $235.10 million in China so far, largely through IMAX receipts. On the IMAX website on January 17, the company stated that the film is “now the third highest grossing IMAX release of all time with more than $215 million in IMAX global box office through Monday in its first full month of release.” Its run has been extended for another month. The film has already crossed the $2 billion mark, achieved by only five other films, two of them James Cameron’s.

Here are the top ten films for the weekend of January 20-22. Global Times is reporting that box office receipts for the first day of the holiday, Sunday, exceeded $265 million.

As mentioned, at No. 1 is The Wandering Earth 2, with receipts of $69.32 million for Sunday. Starring Andy Lau, Wu Jing, and Li Xuejian and directed and co-written by Frant Gwo, the story is about the efforts to move the earth out of its orbit to a new solar system because of the danger of being obliterated by the dying sun. The sci-fi disaster film has also opened in the US day and date.

At No. 2 is director Zhang Yimou’s Full River Red (Man Jiang Hong), a historical suspense movie starring Shen Teng and Jackson Yee that deals with treachery in the Southern Song dynasty. The film grossed $59.06 million on Sunday.

The World War II espionage thriller, Hidden Blade, premieres at No. 3. It stars superstar Tony Leung, Wang Yibo, and Zhou Xun, and is directed by Cheng Er. The story is set during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai and focuses on the intelligence agents who risked their lives to save the motherland. The film grossed $20.04 million in one day.

Boonie Bears: Guardian Code, the ninth animated sci-fi comedy in the franchise took fourth place with $19.27 million earned on Sunday. It is directed by Lin Yongchang and Shao Heqi.

The Chinese comedy-fantasy Five Hundred Miles comes in at No. 5 with $18.41 million over Sunday. The story is of the fantastic journey of two estranged friends and their opportunity to fix the friendship. It stars Lei Jia Lin and Zhang Xiao Fei and is directed by Lun Su.

The Deep Sea (Shenhai), a Chinese animated film directed by Tian Xiaopeng opens at No. 6 and is an underwater fantasy story in 3D based on the POV of a young girl. It earned $10.85 million on Sunday.

Avatar 2 drops to No. 7 with a total of $235.10 over 38 days. It earned $3.94 million on Friday, $1.65 million on Saturday, and $0.09 million on Sunday.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish ($6.55 million over 31 days), the drama Wonder Boy (stats not available), and Chinese comedy Better Man ($46.45 million in 23 days) round out the top ten.