• Box Office

China Box Office July 3, 2022

China is positioning itself as a leader of cultural influence, and it learned its lessons from Hollywood, according to Erich Schwartzel in his book “Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy”. Schwartzel writes about a meeting in 2008 of Chinese executives and Hollywood leaders in Los Angeles. The Chinese were there to learn how Hollywood does business and the industry leaders were anxious to teach them. Studio executives talked about the history of their companies, agents talked about managing movie stars, independent producers talked about structuring financing, and an MPA representative explained how lobbing works on behalf of the industry. Presumably, the end game for the eager Hollywood executives was for increased Chinese financing and co-productions, more films released in that market, the establishment of more theme parks in China, etc.

However, what happened is that China learned the lessons all too well. A modern, sophisticated film industry was established and funded in the country, Hollywood product was even more limited, and Chinese filmmakers started producing their own blockbusters to a receptive local audience.

Covid lockdowns have complicated the landscape. China lost its place as the world’s biggest movie territory with its zero-covid strategy and forced quarantines. But the strategy will still be in place once the country emerges from Covid.

Now, as restrictions are being relaxed and more cinemas have reopened, the one big recent Hollywood release, Jurassic Park: Dominion, crossed the $100 million mark in China in a couple of weeks but did not hold its first position at the box office for more than two weekends.

For the weekend of July 1-3, Lighting Up the Stars, a Chinese film that opened last weekend after a week of previews, stayed at No. 1, earning $118.76 million in 10 days of release, with $43.97 million over the three-day weekend. The film is directed by Liu Jiangjjiang and tells the story of a funeral director (Zhu Yilong) and a young girl (Yang Enyou) who become friends once he gets out of prison. The film’s release was held from its planned opening in April for Covid reasons.

JWD fell far behind at No. 2 grossing $9.65 million over the weekend, with $132.05 million in 24 days.

In third place is the new release Ode to the Spring, a film about the people in Wuhan when the pandemic broke out in that city in 2020. It is directed by Yue Dong, Xiaozhi Rao, and Yusheng Tian and stars Dongyu Zhou, Fang Yin, and Li Lin. It grossed $2.71 million within 3 days of release.

The Japanese film Doraemon: Nobita’s Little Star Wars 2021, came in at No. 4. The animated space opera parody of Star Wars, No. 41 in the Doraemon series, and a remake of the 1985 Doraemon: Nobita’s Little Star Wars, grossed $0.79 million over the weekend with a total of $13.47 in 37 days of release.

Chinese drama One Week Friends comes in at No. 5 earning $16.05 million in 16 days of release, with $1.19 million over the weekend. This is another youth romance about a young woman whose amnesia only allows her one week’s memory.

The Chinese serial killer murder mystery Detective vs. Sleuths, whose April release was postponed due to the pandemic, is No. 6 on the list in previews, set to officially open on July 8. The story is set in Hong Kong and stars Sean Lau, Raymond Lam, and Carman Lee Yeuk-tung, and is written and directed by Wai Ka-fai. It has made under half a million dollars so far.

The Stones, a Chinese sci-fi animated movie is No. 7, also in previews. Captain Qomolangma, a Chinese documentary, came in at No. 8 with $ 0.34 million in 2 days of release, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is No. 9 with $28.9 million in 87 days of release, and Chinese action film Chen Zhen rounds out the top ten with $0.2 million in 19 days of release.

So far no other Hollywood films have received release dates in China.