Mainland China’s box office fell to a low of $14.5 million last weekend, with no major new films being released during the country’s set piece political events. The result was an unexpected top five chart.
BOX OFFICE DATA FOR FRIDAY TO SUNDAY PERIOD PROVIDED BY ARTISAN GATEWAY Patriot rescue movie “Homecoming” topped the box office rankings for the fourth consecutive weekend. Its winning score was at least $7.9 million (RMB55.8 million). After four weeks on release, and thanks to a strong National Day weekend debut, it has collected $198 million (RMB1.40 billion), making it one of the best films of the year in China.
“Give Me Five” placed second in its seventh weekend of release with $2.0 million (RMB14.4 million). Since its release on September 9, 2022, it has grossed $67 million.
The third number is “Common Hero”, which is released in time for national day celebrations like “Homecoming”. It earned $1.8 million in its most recent weekend for a four-week total of $25.9 million.
The Chinese-made animation film “New Gods: Yang Jian”, released on August 19, 2022, took fourth place with 4.7 million RMB (about $700,000). After nine weeks on release, it has grossed $77.6 million. Another animation franchise title, “New Happy Dad and Son 5: My Alien Friend” earned RMB3.3 million ($460,000) for a 23-day total of $10.7 million.
Data recently published by China Central Television, a state broadcaster, points to Chinese-made films scoring fast with their home audiences over the past decade. Big-budget patriotic films have been particularly successful.
As this year’s data may indicate, the problem with the strategy of relying on Chinese-patriotic tentpole films (sometimes referred to as ‘main melody’ titles) is that these films release their releases during peak holidays. They cluster in the period. This can be a cannabis effect and appears to increase between periods.
This would be less the case if China were also allowing the import of foreign titles. But they are also reduced.
According to CCTV data, Chinese films will gain an 85% market share in 2021, which is a record number in recent years.
But trends in 2022 suggest that Chinese films may be gaining market share that is now shrinking. Artisan Gateway has a year-to-date box office gross of $3.90 billion. This is down 34 percent from 2021 when China’s theater market was the largest in the world.
More than 82,000 cinema screens were in operation in China at the end of 2021, according to CCTV data. It is not clear that they are all necessary.