The Beijing Culture-backed tear-jerking comedy “Hi, Mom” grossed $134 million this weekend to finally surpass Wanda Film’s record-breaking Chinese New Year holiday frontrunner “Detective Chinatown 3” in overall box office, having led the latter in single-day returns since Monday.
It is now only the sixth film to ever have grossed more than RMB400 million ($62 million) in China, a feat achieved by “Detective Chinatown 3,” “Avengers: Endgame” and four other local titles.
The upset shows just how important strong word of mouth is these days in the world’s largest film market. With its 2020 debut delayed due to COVID-19, “Detective Chinatown 3” had a year-long head start over its competitors. While its aggressive promotional campaigns and the strength of its franchise pulled in audiences initially to generate a world record-breaking debut weekend, they have proven no match for the grassroots support that has emerged for the comedy that has organically captured hearts across the country.
The Jia Ling-helmed film has consistently received the highest user ratings among all seven of the blockbusters that premiered on Lunar New Year’s Day Feb. 12, and currently ranks 8.1 out of 10 on the popular Douban platform. “Detective Chinatown 3” languishes in last with 5.6 out of 10.
Inspired by the life story of her own mother, who passed away when Jia was 19, and adapted from a play she wrote in 2016, “Hi, Mom” tells the emotional tale of a woman who travels back in time to befriend her own mother and try to make her life better.
It has currently sold a total of $624 million (RMB4.05 billion) in tickets, while “Detective Chinatown 3” has sold $621 million (RMB4.03 billion), according to real-time data from Maoyan pulled just after midnight local time. Over the weekend, it brought in $134 million, more than triple second place “Detective,” which grossed $42.3 million.
From sales in just the China market alone, both titles have now far surpassed the world’s highest grossing film of 2020: China’s “The Eight Hundred,” which earned $468 million.
The strong performance of “Hi, Mom” has been a boon to its main backer Beijing Culture, which has floundered financially over the last two years but seen a recent uptick in its stock price in wake of the hit.
In third place was Huace Film and TV’s “A Writer’s Odyssey,” which earned a further $20.2 million this weekend to bring its current cume up to $113 million (RMB733 million).
In fourth was the Andy Lau-starring “Endgame,” which has had strong word of mouth as the second highest-rated title of the holiday but languished in last place until now due to lower numbers of scheduled screenings. It made $14.7 million this weekend and now has a 10-day cume of $42.9 million (RMB278 million).
Animations “Boonie Bears: The Wild Life” and “New Gods: Nezha Reborn” came in fifth and sixth, grossing $9.9 million and $9.17 million, bringing their cumes up to $77.7 million (RMB504 million) and $50.4 million (RMB327 million), respectively. In seventh was the Huayi-backed special effects-heavy fantasy film “The YinYang Master,” which brought in only a further $2.64 million. It has grossed $36.6 million (237.5 million) so far.
Next Friday will see the release of Warner Brothers’ live-action animation hybrid reboot “Tom and Jerry,” which is currently the first foreign film to hit Chinese screens in the wake of the Chinese New Year holiday blackout on imports. Disney’s Southeast Asia-inspired “Raya and the Last Dragon” will then debut in cinemas on March 5.