China Box Office Earns $33 Million in Weekend Without new Releases

Chart positions for the top five films remained largely unchanged over the weekend in China, as the Middle Kingdom’s box office returned to a familiar early-year torpor.

Data from Artisan Gateway shows that aggregate revenues amounted to $32.8 million over the Friday to Sunday period, down from $37.5 million the previous weekend. But considering the lack of significant new releases, that outcome should be taken as a sign of success.

That indicates that cinemas are largely operating normally in China, as they have been since social distancing and capacity limits were removed in October last year, and that localized shutdowns due to a revival of the coronavirus are having little impact on the industry’s overall revenues.

For the year to date, Chinese cinemas have earned gross revenues of $512 million, 48% up compared with $345 million in the same period last year.

From now on the gap between 2021 and 2020 performances will continue to grow. That’s because cinemas nationwide were ordered to close with effect from Jan. 23, 2020. They stayed that way for nearly six months, until July 2020.

Over the most recent weekend romantic comedy “Big Red Envelope” held its top spot with a $7.4 million second weekend. It has taken $22.6 million since its Jan. 22 debut.

It was followed by “Shock Wave 2” which returned to second place and earned $6.4 million, compared with $7.0 million the previous weekend. Its long, steady performance will likely make it one of the year’s top films. Its cumulative since a Dec. 24, 2020 commercial premiere now stands at $187 million.

Swapping places with “Shock Wave”, cancer drama “A Little Red Flower” earned $5.5 million. Its cumulative since a Dec. 31, 2020 debut is $207 million.

Chinese-made animation “Wish Dragon” earned $3.1 million over the weekend, compared with $3.4 million previously. After 16 days on release it has grossed $18.8 million.

Fifth place belonged to another local film “Warm Hug” $with a 2.5 million weekend score. After 32 days on release, it has accumulated $127 million.

With distributors holding back their big titles until the Chinese New Year weekend – Feb. 12 in cinemas – more box office drift can be expected over the next week.

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