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Box office drop for Chinese National Day weekend

The patriotic action movie “Homecoming” dominated the movie audience in China over the weekend with nearly $60 million. But the National Day holiday season is sluggish compared to recent years.

Directed by Rao Xiaozhi, the film is another story about the heroic rescue of two Chinese citizens in danger in foreign lands. In this case, Chinese diplomats must return to war-torn Libya in 2011 to rescue 125 people left behind.

The film opened Friday and grossed $59.3 million (RMB421), according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. It captured 67% of the market share. IMAX stated that the film was shot with IMAX certified cameras and that $3 million of the total came from its screens in China.

While the $88 million gross on Friday and Sunday was a nice jump from the theatrical slump of the previous two weekends, the numbers were actually a continuation of the poor box office that China has experienced for most of this year. The weekend of October 1 was supposed to be much bigger than that.

The list of problems plaguing the Chinese theater sector includes: A dwindling supply of attractive local titles. increasing dependence on festive seasons; acute shortage of foreign titles, especially Hollywood; And China’s ongoing stringent anti-COVID measures that require city closures, mass testing and travel restrictions.

We can now add to the list China’s economic problems – especially rising unemployment and a deep real estate crisis – which may affect people’s purchasing power.

The “Homecoming” opening is minuscule compared to “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” which headed the National Day holiday last year with $203 million in three days. “Homecoming” falls short even alongside the second movie, “My Country, My Parents,” which grossed $76 million in its first weekend in the same period last year. The $88 million total for the weekend nationwide represents a 70% decrease compared to October 1-3, 2021.

A week ago, box office expectations for the weekend were looking brighter. Local analysts predicted that the seven-day National Day holiday could lead to an increase in revenue of 3.3 billion yuan. This compares to 4.2 billion yuan in 2021 and 5 billion yuan in the year before COVID 2019.

Seven films with slightly overlapping release dates were lined up to hit the market during this period. Four of them are rated as fitting the “master melody” description of “realistic patriotic works that focus on stories about the nation, the Chinese Communist Party, and the People’s Liberation Army.” The other three are animated films.

Unfortunately, the launch of the first “Born to Fly” rider has been postponed indefinitely on Tuesday (September 27, 2022), just three days before the scheduled takeoff.

The film is an airborne action adventure about Chinese test pilots, which has been described in some quarters as China’s response to “Top Gun”. (“The excellent young Chinese pilots put the self-produced Chinese stealth fighter through its paces and protect the territorial airspace of the motherland without fear of difficulties or danger,” according to the Global Times.) Hu Jun looks at Wang Yibo, Yu Yosh, and Zhou Dongyu.

The producers’ explanation for the delay indicated the need to improve the film’s special effects. But online commentators have pointed out many overt similarities to Top Gun. The trailer for “Born to Fly” is still available outside of China on YouTube. Top Gun Maverick was not allowed to be released in China.

Artisan Gateway data shows “Ordinary Hero” ranked second over the weekend, with $8.6 million (CNY 61 million), ahead of “Give Me Five”, on its fourth weekend of release with $4.9 million (34.7 million). CNY).

The fourth place over the weekend was taken by an animated title, “New Happy Dad and Son 5: My Alien Friend,” which was released on Saturday and grossed $3.5 million (18.2 million CNY) in two days. Fifth place belongs to another national title, “Steel Wheel”. It took 2.6 million dollars (18.2 million yuan).

On a year-to-date level, Artisan Gateway calculates that this year’s box office in China is 27% behind compared to 2021. The running total is $3.70 billion, compared to $5.09 billion.

“The year-to-date downtrend is likely to continue in the coming weeks as annual comparisons look challenging,” the company said.



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