• Box Office

China Box Office October 23, 2022

The Communist Party Congress that concluded in Beijing on October 22 reinstalled Xi Jinping as China’s leader for an unprecedented third term. As regards the entertainment sector, it is clear that the policies already in place from his previous term will continue. These include stringent censorship of content, imported and domestic, with the aim of glorifying the administration and stifling any creative dissent.

Only 17 Hollywood movies have opened in China this year; there were 26 in 2019. Those that were released had to conform to Chinese censorship requirements. These included editing films by dropping dialog or cutting scenes that were deemed unacceptable. Chinese companies have withdrawn completely from or decreased their investments in US media companies. The Chinese have also had a very low profile in international film festivals, censoring those that won international critical acclaim, a prime example being Return to Dust which was highly praised at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year but was pulled off Chinese exhibition platforms after it had already earned $14 million. The speculation is that the rural story of impoverished Chinese contradicted the image that China wants to project to the world. The goal of making China the biggest box office territory in the world seems to have gone by the wayside, subjugated to the propaganda that the administration deems necessary to achieve its aims.

All this is against the backdrop of China’s stringent ‘zero-covid’ policy that has enforced draconian lockdowns causing immense hardship to its citizens, as well as the political situation with the US – a recently announced ban on China’s access to make or buy advanced semiconductor chips will surely exacerbate the tense relationship between the countries.

Therefore, it is no surprise that there was another dismal weekend at the box office with no new releases. China’s total box office this year is down 33% from 2021 with $3.88 billion.

These are the top ten films at the China box office for the weekend of October 21-23. Their positions remain unchanged on Sunday from last weekend, with a couple moving up or down on the list slightly on Friday and Saturday.

The patriotic film Home Coming again leads the box office with $8.26 million over the weekend for a total of $208.56 million in 24 days. 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. It stars Zhang Yi and Karry Wang.

Give Me Five is again No. 2 making $70.56 million in 45 days of release with $2.12 million grossed over the weekend. The sci-fi Chinese film tells of a young man who travels back in time to the 1980s to help his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father remember his life. It is directed by Zhang Luan and stars Chang Yuan.

Ordinary Hero stays at No. 3 for a weekend gross of $1.85 million and a total of $27.31 over 24 days. It 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.

The animated Xin Shen Bang: Yang Jian (New Gods) stays at No. 4 grossing $81.82 million in 66 days of release with a three-day take of $­­­0.7 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.

New Happy Dad and Son 5: My Alien Friend, the space-themed animated film, stayed at No. 5 with $11.22 million in 23 days, with $0.49 million over the weekend. It is the fifth film in the franchise that was started in 1995 and follows the adventures of the ‘small-headed’ father and ‘big-headed’ son.

Moon Man, a genuine hit, stays at No. 6 earning $459.59 million in 87 days. The Chinese comedy is the story of a maintenance worker left behind on the moon unintentionally by a lunar crew that was sent to save the earth from an asteroid strike. The worker comes to believe the earth is destroyed and he is the last man alive in the universe.

Steel Will, a drama based on real-life stories, stayed at No. 7 for a total of $11.80 over 24 days. Another patriotic film about iron and steel production revisiting a historic Chinese event, it is directed by Ning Haiquiang, and stars Lin Yongjian and Liu Ye.

Two animated films, The Tyrannosaurus Rex and Cinderella and the Spellbinder, take eighth and ninth place with $4.35 million and $4.18 million over 16 days.

Rounding out the top ten is Table for Six which grossed $15.14 million in 45 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.