China’s Spring Festival got off to a strong start, with “The Battle at Lake Changjin II” taking CNY 1.271 billion (USD $200 million) on Thursday, the third day of its release. Total box office for the first two day for all films exceeded CNY 2.49 billion (USD $391.4 million), leading to speculation that the total box office for the festival could reach one billion Us dollars for the first time ever. This is despite restrictions, such as a 75% cap on seating as part of COVID-prevention measures.
While “The Battle at Lake Changjin II” has dominated, five of the eight new films released took in more than CNY 100 million (USD $15.7 million) on opening day, while two exceeded twice that. The militaristic-patriotic war film looks set to exceed the USD $913 million of the first film, which became the biggest Chinese film of all time and the second biggest film globally of 2021 after “Spider-man: no Way Home”.
In early sessions on Tuesday, motorbike odyssey “Only Fools Rush In” directed by Han Han lay in second place and accounted for some 16% of the market, compared with the 43% for “Lake Changjin II.” “Too Cool to Kill,” the only out and out comedy releasing this season, lay in third place with 14%. “Nice View,” from “Dying to Survive” director Wen Wuye, also starring former pop star Jackson Yee lay in fourth place.
There are also thee animation titles entering wide release. Hollywood films are not embargoed during this, the busiest cinema season in the Chinese calendar. With Chinese cinema operators having introduced dynamic ticket pricing and third-party ticket platforms having abandoned ticket subsidies, individual cinema tickets have been selling for as much as CNY 179 (USD $28.14), with national average ticket price is as high as CNY 58.7 (USD $9.23), an increase of 45.6% compared with the annual average ticket price of CNY 40.3 (USD $6.34) in 2021. For a more critical look at the Spring Festival box office and the over-reliance of cinemas on it, this analysis by Sohu is very detailed, as well as this dissection of ticket price rises.