• Box Office

China Box Office October 2, 2022

Gizmodo is reporting that Return to Dust, directed by Li Ruijun, a film that was on the top ten charts for a few weeks grossing over $7 million, and which screened at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, was pulled from streaming services in China. While social media users have commented on the disappearance of the film on some platforms, Weibo has banned users from making any mention of the deletion.

Apparently, the reason is that the Chinese government doesn’t wish to promote any disparities in the wealth of the Chinese. The film is about a couple who ekes out a living on their farm while fighting a rich man who wants to buy their land.

Gizmodo quotes the director’s reaction in a recent interview with the Economist: “Everyone knows there are lots of poor people. But the government doesn’t want Chinese people to see too much of it.” Prior to screening in China, the sad ending was fixed with an end title that said everything worked out for the protagonists, according to the Economist.

Pirated copies are available on YouTube.

October 1 is an annual national holiday, the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. It commemorates the establishment of the People’s Republic on that day in 1949 and the celebrations last a week. Several new releases have been timed to open on this competitive moviegoing weekend.

Here are the top ten films at the China box office for the weekend of September 30-October 2.

New entry Home Coming tops the charts this weekend grossing $63.16 million in three days. The 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. It stars Zhang Yi and Karry Wang and is directed by Rao Xiao Zhi.

Ordinary Hero is another new release that comes in at No. 2. It earned $8.98 million over the weekend and is based on a true story of a rescue team racing against time to transport a 7-year-old boy with a severed arm over 1,400 miles from a Hotan village to a hospital in the Xinjian Autonomous Region. It is directed by Tony Chan and stars Li Bingbing, Huang Xiaoming, and Feng Shaofeng.

Give Me Five which had stayed at the top of the charts for two weeks in a row, fell to No. 3 by the end of the weekend, making $55.76 million in 24 days of release with $5.1 million grossed over the weekend. The time-travel Chinese film tells of a young man who goes back to the 1980s to help his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father remember his life. It is directed by Zhang Luan and stars Chang Yuan.

New space-themed animated entry, the fifth in a franchise, New Happy Dad and Son 5: My Alien Friend, opened on Saturday at No. 3 and ended the weekend at No. 4 with $3.71 million in two days. The franchise was started in 1995 and follows the adventures of the ‘small-headed’ father and ‘big-headed’ son.

The animated Xin Shen Bang: Yang Jian (New Gods) fell to No. 5 making $74.93 million in 45 days of release with a three-day take of $­­­2.5 million. It is directed by Ji Zhao and stars voice actor Kai Wang. Gkids has acquired the rights for both Chinese and English-dubbed versions for theatrical distribution in North America next year.

Moon Man, the Chinese sci-fi blockbuster comedy, comes in at No. 6 earning $454.69 million in 66 days.

Coming in at No. 7, Steel Will, a new patriotic drama based on real-life stories deals with iron and steel production in Liaoning province, the largest Chinese iron and steel base. It is described by china.org as a film revisiting “the historical moment when iron and steel production resumed on the eve of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It will highlight the significance of iron and steel production to New China’s infrastructure and the Chinese forces during the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53).” It earned $4.19 million over the weekend, is directed by Ning Haiquiang, and stars Lin Yongjian and Liu Ye.

Another new animated film, The Tyrannosaurus Rex, opened on Saturday and ends the weekend at No. 8 with $1.43 million in two days.

Close behind is a reimagining of the Cinderella story, the animated Cinderella and the Spellbinder, which also opened on Saturday earning $1.49 million in two days. Its Sunday take was weaker than that of Rex though it outgrossed Rex on Saturday, so it ended at No. 9 on Sunday.

Table for Six rounds out the top ten for a total gross of $13.37 million in 24 days. This Covid holdover comedy premiered at the Far East Film Festival in April where it was nominated for Best Screenplay and is about the complicated relationships of three brothers played out over a family reunion. It stars Dayo Wong, Stephy Tang, and Louis Cheung and is directed by Sunny Chan.