China Focus: China's box office gets holiday boost, warm-up for summer movie season-Xinhua

China Focus: China's box office gets holiday boost, warm-up for summer movie season

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-05-06 23:30:13

Staff members disinfect a cinema in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Nov. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Tao)

BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhua) -- China's movie box office enjoyed a bounce over the May Day holiday, amassing 297 million yuan (44.77 million U.S. dollars) over the five-day period ending Wednesday.

The nearly 300-million-yuan revenue, though much lower than the 1.67 billion yuan generated during the holiday last year, is "no easy feat," according to experts reached by Xinhua.

It is meaningful considering that the current wave of COVID-19 infections has caused the postponement of release dates by multiple major domestic titles and mounting cinema closures, especially in Shanghai and Beijing -- two box office powerhouses.

The achievement somehow signals hope for further film market recovery and serves as a warm-up for the summer movie season, usually a busy moviegoing period, they said.


China's box office performance during the holiday has been regarded as "better than expected" by a China Film News report quoting industry insiders.

Daily ticket sales peaked at 81 million yuan on May 1, a huge jump from a low of less than 10 million yuan that continued for many working days in April, according to box office tracker Maoyan and the China Movie Data Information Network.

Nearly 8.7 million people went to movie theaters during the holiday when a daily average of around 68 percent of cinemas remained open nationwide, up from 56 percent on April 28.

Topping the sales chart was the romantic comedy "Stay With Me" from Enlight Pictures with 88 million yuan, immediately followed by DreamWorks Animation's animated comedy "The Bad Guys" with 71.55 million yuan.

Coming in third place was Warner Bros. Pictures' "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore." It grossed nearly 33 million yuan during the holiday.

Rao Shuguang, president of the China Film Critics Association, said in the May Day holiday box office figures people can see "hope and vitality" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The 'fundamentals' of China's film market are still there, holding on and waiting (for the pandemic to wane)," commented the critic. He said some of the cinemas are struggling to survive the impact of the pandemic and they need support.


China's summer movie season spanning three months until Aug. 31 is usually a busy moviegoing period for young people.

It generated an average of 17 billion yuan in box office revenue in each of the three years through 2019, before the pandemic struck.

The amount for the same period dropped to just 7.4 billion yuan in 2021, even lower than the 7.8 billion yuan recorded for the same year's seven-day Spring Festival holiday.

As the output imbalance among different movie seasons is becoming an outstanding issue, experts are calling for greater efforts to meet young moviegoers' need for quality films and boost summer box office sales.

Rao called the upcoming summer movie season "a big test" for China's film market, stressing the need to increase the market supply of high-quality, major films to solidify and explore the moviegoer base that is being diverted online partly due to the COVID-19.

His remarks echoed surging worries among cinema chain managers that young people are increasingly accustomed to going online for films and dramas, rather than attending theaters.

Confident about film's status as an industry, Yin Hong, vice chairman of the China Film Association and a professor at Tsinghua University, said as long as there are great movies and demands for them still exist, a fully-recovered film industry will be foreseeable.

Comparing cinemas to "the first window to showcase a film's influence, popularity, and appeal," Yin said only when cinemas flourish can films flourish on streaming platforms.

"Without the support of cinemas, it's almost impossible for a movie to become a huge hit that is widely known among the public," he said.

That said, Yin stressed that an orderly film market, wider range of film themes, more diverse film genres, professional talent, and the promotion of shared values are crucial to the Chinese movie industry's high-quality development. 


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