• Box Office

China Box Office May 15, 2022

In 2020, China passed the US to become the biggest box office territory in the world. In 2021, the China Film Administration put out a five-year plan to “adhere to the party’s total leadership over film work.” The plan included releasing ten local films a year to gross at least $15 million, accounting for at least 55% of the total annual box office, and bringing up the number of movie multiplexes to 100,000, with at least one in each devoted solely to propaganda films. The plan also aims to widen the theatrical market for Chinese films internationally, including setting up booths at major festivals. (The South China Morning Post reports that no Chinese films will be screened at Cannes this year.) The goal is to put forth a “trustworthy, lovable, and respectable image of China.”

The upsurge of Covid has paused these plans, as more than a third of cinemas continue to be closed in the country. But local film production will continue to be favored, Hollywood product will be sharply limited, and more and more sophisticated propaganda epics The Battle at Lake Changjin I and II will be supported by Chinese moviegoers.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek called the China situation “very complicated” during an earnings call on May 11. “We’ll continue to submit our films for release. It’s worth noting, I think though, that at the time we’re having some difficulty in getting our films in China, that Dr. Strange did extraordinarily well.” Of course, the Chinese market would have added much more to its bottom line despite Covid even though the box office split is lower for foreign releases than in other territories.

Viral videos of people being dragged off to quarantine centers, reports of people killing their pets before they starved, and posts on social media of citizens banging pots and pans from their balconies in frustration show that entertainment is not foremost on their minds.

For the weekend of May 13-15, the box office has continued to be dismal. But some people did go to the movies despite the draconian lockdowns in some afflicted cities.

The top five films’ ranking is unchanged from last weekend.

Dreamworks’ The Bad Guys retained the first spot with a total of $3.89 million for the weekend with a cumulative $19.11 million over 17 days. Internationally, it has been supplanted in the No. 1 position by the domination of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which did not get a China release.

The Chinese comedy Stay With Me stayed at No. 2. The film about young people and their long-distance relationships took in $­1.71 million over the weekend for a total of $19.77 million over 17 days.

Again in third place is Man on the Edge, the Chinese action film that made $1.24 million Friday to Sunday, with a total gross of $17.06 million in 31 days of release.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’s maintained its fourth position and its total gross in China is now $24.68 million with a weekend take of just under $1million in 38 days.

Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania remained in fifth place, earning $13.87 million so far in 43 days of release with $0.76 million over the weekend.

Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg’s Uncharted moved up one to sixth place earning $0.41 million Friday to Sunday; its total gross is now $19.69 million in 63 days of release.

Horror film sequel Escape Room: Tournament of Champions came in seventh with a total gross of $8.88 million in 44 days of release. It is a 2021 film.

Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall starring Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson, which flopped in the US, is still playing with 52 days in release, earning about half its worldwide gross in China alone for a total of $21.68 million. It is executive-produced and distributed by the Huayi Brothers who had announced their participation at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. With an estimated cost of $146 million, it has so far made around $45 million worldwide.

China drama Twin Sister which was released in January returned to the top ten list in ninth position after 127 days of release.

New entrant, Universal’s Marry Me, starring and produced by Jennifer Lopez, broke into the top ten this weekend earning $0.34 million in three days of release.