• Box Office

China Box Office November 27, 2022

As expected, Avatar: The Way of Water will be released in China and now has an official date – December 16, showing in regular and IMAX format. (It is the international release date for all territories.) The announcement was made by 20th Century Studios with a post on Sina Weibo along with a trailer and a poster, according to Variety.

The release was expected as director James Cameron showed film executives exclusive clips of the film on August 19 in the CINITY format, a Chinese giant screen technology. He also addressed the attendees via video according to China Daily, praising the CINITY format and telling them, “With the first Avatar, we set out to push the limits of the big screen. With the new Avatar films, we’re pushing those limits even further,” adding his thanks in Mandarin.

The first Avatar (2009) was re-released last year in China and a special screening was held in Shanghai Disneyland this year to coincide with the touring exhibition of “Avatar: Explore Pandora” with a special video message from Cameron. The immersive experience shows the viewer the landscape of Pandora and the culture of the Na’vi.

The first film earned $260 million in China including returns from its rerelease and still holds the international box office crown.

With so few Hollywood films released in China in recent years, the Chinese film industry is looking to The Way of Water to lift it out of its doldrums. The box office has been down by 35% this year due to a combination of Covid closures and a lack of releases. Tensions in the US-China relationship have further exacerbated the situation.

But The Way of Water, with its reported budget of $350-400 million needs China – Cameron is reported to have said it needs to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history to break even. The three additional sequels are probably contingent on its performance given the recent cost-cutting mandate at Disney which now owns Fox.

However, the covid situation has escalated in China with another surge and with new lockdowns announced. According to Bloomberg news, “In Beijing, schools are being shut again, food delivery services are running out of capacity, makeshift camps are being built, and residents need a negative lab test result taken within the previous 48 hours to enter public venues or use the subway.”

So it is not surprising that the box office returns continue to languish in China. How the new Avatar release is affected remains to be seen.

Here are the top ten films for the weekend of November 25-27. Except for Where the Crawdads Sing released this weekend, not a single film on the chart is new.

Japanese film Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween takes the No. 1 spot again, earning only $3.6 million over the weekend for a total of $17.84 million over 10 days. The animated mystery film directed by Susumu Mitsunaka is based on a manga series and is the 25th iteration of the Case Closed franchise.

The Tipping Point stayed at No. 2 on Friday and Saturday till it was edged out by Farewell Beijing on Sunday. Beijing made $1.28 million ($5.08 million total in 10 days); Tipping Point made $1.36 million ($20.64 total in 17 days). Tipping Point 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 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.

The patriotic film Home Coming is fourth on the list with $233.01 million earned over 59 days, grossing $0.72 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 fifth place is the low-budget US film Fall starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan which was released in the US in August by Lionsgate. It earned $0.54 million this weekend with a total gross of $2.48 million in ten 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 came in sixth with $0.48 million over three 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. It was released in the US in July by Sony and has grossed $50 million overseas.

Give Me Five, Steel Will, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, and Deadly Illusions round out the top ten. Each made less than a quarter million dollars over the weekend. Give Me Five, the time-traveling drama has been in release for 80 days; Steel Will, the patriotic story of iron and steel production has been out for 59.